“Reveal to the faithful the wolves which are demolishing the Lord's vineyard.”
—Pope Clement XIII, Encyclical
Christianae Reipublicae (1766)

Perfect for Lent...


True Restoration News: Season 5 Launched, Season 2 Available Free

Great news from our friends over at True Restoration: The traditional Catholic internet radio and media apostolate is now in its fifth season and has received a complete makeover, a wholly redesigned and easy-to-navigate web site that combines and consolidates all the former individual component sites (blog, radio, videos, press, etc.) into one. Find all their content now at a single, easy-to-remember location: Another exciting improvement: You now have four different membership options to choose from:

  • Digital Free Membership — get free access to Seasons 1 and 2 of Restoration Radio and any other sponsored episodes from Seasons 3-5
  • Quarterly Membership — get access to all seasons of Restoration Radio and access to all forums (new!) — for $45.00 USD per quarter
  • Annual Membership — get access to all content (Restoration Radio, forums, videos, and select transcripts) and a 10% discount on any purchases from True Restoration Press — for $150.00 USD per year
  • Annual “Jorge” Membership — get access to all the season’s Francis Watch episodes, plus 10 more episodes from Seasons 3-4 of the Executive Producer’s choosing — for only $50.00 USD per year

Be sure at least to get the digital free membership so you don’t miss out on the great content that’s provided free of charge. Lent is almost here, so take charge of your spiritual and doctrinal life! 

Plus, we are happy to announce that Novus Ordo Watch has sponsored the entire second season of Restoration Radio so that all of Season 2 is now available to the public entirely free of charge. You’re welcome!

Here are some highlights of the programs of Season 2, now free of charge:

Restoration Radio is a member-supported worldwide podcast (internet radio) apostolate which features more clergy than all their imitators combined. Topics include but are not limited to catechetics, pastoral matters, sacred liturgy, and — new for Season 5 — Apologetics.

This year, they’ve upped the ante, adding more video conferences, downloadable transcripts of their best episodes, as well as a more substantial bookstore, with great pricing based on strategic acquisitions made. As noted above, they have both annual and quarterly memberships available, as well as a “Jorge membership” that provides access to Season 5’s popular Francis Watch program as well as one additional handpicked episode each month.

Remember — access to Seasons 1 and 2 is free (Season 1 was sponsored by another benefactor), but in order to get it, you have to register for a Digital Membership, which, again, is free. You can do so here. Lent is coming, and while it is the season for “cutting back”, this is definitely the sort of content you can “binge” on even during the season of penance.

At Novus Ordo Watch, we understand that professional undertakings like this have to be supported materially as well as spiritually, and thus we are pleased to do our share by sponsoring occasional shows, including all of Season 3’s Francis Watch, and now all radio shows of Season 2, for your benefit.

Give Restoration Radio a try. You won’t regret it.

See Also:

That sneaky lawyer again...

Chris Ferrara vs. Mark Shea: The Mystery of the Changing Debate Resolution


It may have escaped a lot of people, but it didn’t escape us. 

On January 12, 2016, a debate took place between Semi-Traditionalist spinmeister Christopher A. Ferrara and professional Novus Ordo muckspout Mark Shea. This debate was held at St. Augustine Novus Ordo parish in South St. Paul, Minnesota, as part of their Argument of the Month (AOTM) men’s club. When we first heard about the resolution to be debated between the two opponents, we were shocked that apparently Christopher Ferrara would be so foolish as to agree to take the affirmative in the following resolution: “Has the Catholic Church abandoned the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost?” This is the exact resolution that was posted verbatim at The Remnant’s YouTube page on January 6, 2016, in the description for the debate preview/advertising video produced by the AOTM club, which you can verify for yourself at this link. A screenshot appears below:


Click to enlarge - red ellipses added

Why would it be “foolish” to affirm such a thesis? Because it is totally contrary to Catholic doctrine, for it denies the indefectibility of the Church. A whole host of magisterial teachings could be cited here, but we’ll leave it at just a single one:

In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Saviour, the daughter and the heiress of His redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance, and of that immortality which have been promised it, it makes no terms with error, but remains faithful to the commands which it has received to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time and to protect it in its inviolable integrity.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi; underlining added.)

Chris Ferrara is a very intelligent man. Surely he would know better than to debate such an obviously flawed and easily refutable resolution. But then he is also a lawyer, and he knows his trade. This he proved beyond any shadow of a doubt during the course of the debate. More on that in a moment.

The AOTM club, which sponsored the debate, was actually advertising a slightly different version of the resolution, but one that in essence was still identical, namely: “Has the modern Catholic Church abandoned the Great Commission?” In fact, this seems to have been the real resolution from the very beginning, because this is how it was advertised on AOTM’s Facebook page on January 5. The Remnant apparently didn’t pick it up right, but that’s really negligible because it’s clear that both sides — The Remnant’s Ferrara as well as Mark Shea — believe that the “modern Catholic Church” is identical in essence to the “Catholic Church”, so there is no real disagreement there.

And so the resolution was officially advertised by the AOTM as, “Has the Modern Catholic Church abandoned the Great Commission?”. We prove this by providing screenshots of various places on the internet where the debate was advertised this way (click each picture to enlarge; all red underlining added for emphasis):

AOTM Facebook Page (Jan. 5) - Link here


Official AOTM Flyer - Link here


Advertisement on forum (Jan. 7) - Link here


Official Advertisement on (Jan. 12) - Link here


So, one would think that the resolution for the debate was pretty clear, and it was even posted on the official AOTM site as late as the day of the debate itself, January 12, as shown above. Most importantly, the official flyer advertised the debate using this resolution.

But the story doesn’t end there.

When the debate actually took place, the resolution mysteriously changed. The resolution actually debated was, “The modern Catholic Church has effectively abandoned the Great Commission”. This can be verified not only in the debate itself (video linked below), but also in the video of the “pregame” interview Michael Matt conducted with Ferrara (see 15:40 mark), as well as in Ferrara’s follow-up post for The Remnant’s blog: “Shea vs. Ferrara: So Who Won the Debate?” (posted Jan. 15, 2016).

So, the all-important adverb “effectively” had sneakily been added, and, wouldn’t you know it, Ferrara’s entire case ended up hinging on that very word! This change to the resolution was crucial, because it allowed Ferrara to maintain that the Great Commission had been abandoned in fact but not “officially” (wink, wink).


You can watch the entire debate in the video found on this page. Pay close attention in particular to what is being said beginning at the 48:48 mark, where Ferrara has the audacity to say to Shea, with regard to the resolution of the debate, that “you’ve got to read things closely to understand what we’re debating here tonight. I didn’t say the Church has totally abandoned her mission. This proposition is worded very carefully. It says, ‘The modern Catholic Church has effectively abandoned this command’”. As Ferrara then elaborates on what he means by this, Shea signals his agreement and says, “I agree with that too, sure” (50:32 mark). At 50:41, the laywer from Virginia then “clarifies” his position as follows: “I didn’t say the Church failed. I said Church men in the modern Church have effectively let go of that mission….” So not only does he stress once more there the all-important qualifier “effectively” he somehow managed to smuggle into the official debate resolution, he even converts “modern Church” into “men in the modern Church”, which is definitely not stated in the resolution either, not in the original one and not in the one used in the debate. Shea then points out that although he can agree with this particular point his opponent is making, “it’s not the total story”. This Ferrara then concedes, and Shea responds: “But if it’s not the total story, then the mission hasn’t been abandoned”. At that point — and we’re at the 51:05 mark now — Ferrara gives it his lawyerly all: “I didn’t say it was totally abandoned, I said that, effectively, … everyone … [unintelligible]…” —Shea interrupted, bursting into hearty laughter, telling his opponent, “You are a lawyer!”

Unbelievable, but, alas, not surprising. Ferrara went from “the modern Catholic Church has abandoned the Great Commission” to “the modern Catholic Church has effectively abandoned the Great Commission” to “men in the modern Catholic Church have effectively abandoned the Great Commission” to “men in the modern Catholic Church have effectively abandoned the Great Commission for the most part but not totally.” No wonder Mark Shea started laughing. (And as any faithful visitor to our site knows, we are not fans of Mark Shea — see our podcast TRADCAST 007.)

But apparently Shea was not the only one to fail to pay close enough attention to the wording that Ferrara was harping on. Even AOTM president Kent Wuchterl and Ferrara’s theological twin Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant, were not aware of this nuance, because in the preview video in which they advertised the debate, posted on Jan. 6, Wuchterl and Matt discussed the resolution to be debated and said the following: “Chris Ferrara, of course, will be taking the stance that the Church has abandoned the mandate of making disciples of all nations” (4:57 mark). This was Wuchterl speaking, but it’s not like Matt corrected him in horror. And why should he? That is what they actually believe.

That the changing of the debate’s resolution was not just slick and unfair but also bizarre is further evidenced by the fact that even after the debate, The Remnant still presented the resolution as essentially the original one: “Has the Catholic Church abandoned her defined dogma on the necessity of Baptism and membership in the Catholic Church?”. In this phrasing of the resolution, found in the description of The Remnant’s “AOTM Pregame Show” YouTube video on Jan. 14 — two days after the debate —, the word “modern” doesn’t even appear, and the adverb “effectively”, so important to Ferrara’s case, is likewise nowhere to be found. Have a look at this screenshot we took of the evidence:


click to enlarge (red ellipse and underlining added)

So, what happened here? Is the key word “effectively” not that important after all? And yet, it was extremely important during the debate, as Ferrara happily pointed out. Since the difference is so crucial that to omit the word in the resolution would be stating that the Catholic Church has failed — thus contradicting Divine Revelation in Matthew 16:18 —, will Ferrara now call up Michael Matt to tell him to immediately fix the description on the YouTube video so as not to lead viewers into heresy? Or could it be that the whole thing was just a facade, a word game needed to “win” the debate?

On Jan. 15, a day after the above “pregame” video was posted, The Remnant advertised this video in a post on its web site, and — what do you know — the resolution was again the original one, leaving out both “modern” and “effectively”: “Has the Catholic Church abandoned her defined dogma on the necessity of Baptism and membership in the Catholic Church?”. Here is the link to the page, and here is the screenshot:


click to enlarge (red ellipse and underlining added)

This changing of words as needed, this rhetorical peek-a-boo, proves exactly what we’ve been saying about these Semi-Traditionalists.
 In practice they really do believe the Catholic Church has defected — it is only when they are called out on it, or when they are arguing with sedevacantists or Novus Ordos who tell them that’s not possible, that the lawyerly tricks come out and all sorts of slippery rhetorical devices are introduced that they rely on to try to get out of the obvious doublethink they’re engaging in.

Unfortunately, Chris Ferrara has a history of skilled rhetorical maneuvering, as can be seen in the following critiques of him:

And these people are supposedly the last “remnant” to save the Church from going to hell? Far from it! They are skilled rhetoricians keeping the status quo alive, making sure that people will not abandon the false Vatican II Sect, the “Church of Darkness” in Rome (words of Ven. Anne C. Emmerich). The Remnant and its theological cousins can mount all the “resistance” they want — as long as they acknowledge the Modernist hierarchy as the true and valid Catholic hierarchy, they are giving the usurpers all the power they need to inflict their damage, for all their power comes from the belief that they are the legitimate and lawful pastors of the Mystical Body of Christ. Take this away from them, and the whole thing collapses faster than Francis can say “self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagian.”

Well, Mr. Ferrara, we have one word for you: BUSTED!

See Also:

More Blasphemy from Chaos Frank

Francis claims St. John the Baptist doubted whether Christ was the True Messiah!


Francis teaches a new, false gospel

He fell
entirely silent for Italy’s Family Day, but now that that is over, Francis the Pretend-Pope is back to spouting blasphemies against God and the saints and heresies against the Holy Catholic Faith. On February 5, 2016, the prescribed Gospel reading in the Novus Ordo liturgy was Mark 6:14-29, in which we read about the beheading of St. John the Baptist. Francis used the occasion to speak about another but related Gospel passage, Matthew 11:1-6, which also mentions the Baptist:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he passed from thence, to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

Commenting on this passage, Francis had the audacity to say that St. John was not sure whether Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Messiah! Have a look at the news report from Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis took his congregation beyond the text of the Gospel, inviting them to enter into John’s cell, to look into the soul of the voice crying out in the desert, of the one who baptized the crowds in the name of Him who was to come, the one who was now weighed down not only by the iron chains that bound him in his prison, but by the shackles of some doubt, despite everything:

“But he also suffered in prison – let us say the word – the interior torture of doubt: ‘But maybe I made a mistake? This Messiah is not how I imagined the Messiah would be.’ And he invited his disciples to ask Jesus: ‘But tell us, tell us the truth: are you He who is to come?’ because that doubt made him suffer. ‘Was I mistaken in proclaiming someone who isn’t [who I thought]?’ The suffering, the interior solitude of this man. ‘I, on the other hand, must diminish, but diminish thus: in soul, in body, in everything…”

(“Pope Francis: God triumphs through humility,, Feb. 5, 2016; underlining added.)

The outrage of this blasphemy is staggering, but we wonder if anyone in the audience even noticed or cared. 

Let us now proceed to show why Francis’ interpretation is wrong and an insult to St. John the Baptist, and then we will examine what the correct interpretation is.

What Francis is asking us to believe is that St. John the Baptist, of whom our Blessed Lord said that “there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than” him (Mt 11:11), doubted whether Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, and that he did so despite the fact that….

  • he was sanctified by Christ in the womb (Lk 1:41)
  • his entire mission was to identify the true Messiah and lead people to Him, a role he fulfilled perfectly (Jn 3:26-36)
  • he recognized our Lord and pointed Him out to the people: “The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me” (Jn 1:29-30,36; cf. Jn 1:15)
  • he baptized our Lord and saw the Heavens open and heard the voice of God the Father testifying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:16-17)
  • he himself said that he recognized the Son of God when the Holy Ghost came down upon Him at His baptism: “And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God” (Jn 1:33-34)
  • he recognized our Lord and said to Him: “I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?” (Mt 3:14)

And despite all this, Francis leads his hapless sheeple to believe that this great man, St. John the Baptist, thought to himself, “But maybe I made a mistake? Was I mistaken in proclaiming someone who isn’t [who I thought]? This Messiah is not how I imagined the Messiah would be”?! This is outrageous! 

Think about it: Since St. John’s only role was to lead people to the true Messiah, in the spirit of Elias (Mt 11:14; Jn 1:6-8; Lk 1:17; cf. Mal 3:1), if even he didn’t know for sure who the true Messiah was, then what would have been the point of God sending him? What was he doing? He would have simply been a blind man leading the blind (cf. Mt 15:14; Mt 23:24). Besides, if St. John the Baptist had suspected that Jesus of Nazareth was perhaps not the true Messiah after all but a charlatan — oh, the blasphemy! —, it hardly would have made much sense for him to ask for confirmation, for obviously no deceiver will tell you he is a deceiver just because you kindly ask him. So, what Francis is saying here is not only insulting and outrageous to the nth degree, it is also completely boneheaded, as usual.

The question that still remains to be answered, however, is this: What, then, do we make of the Scriptural text, which says very plainly that the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask the Lord Jesus whether he is the Messiah? Does this not indicate that he had doubts? Why would St. John send his disciples to ask that question?

Thankfully, we need not go very far to find the answer. All we need to do is consult a traditional Catholic Bible commentary, such as the one provided by Fr. George Leo Haydock, included in the famous Haydock Bible, available online here or in print here. The following is Fr. Haydock’s commentary on Mt 11:2-3 (“Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?”):

Ver. 3. Art thou he that is to come? (Greek, who cometh?) i.e. the Messias. John the Baptist had already, on several occasions, declared that Jesus was the Messias. (John i). He could not then doubt of it himself, but sent his disciples to take away their doubt. (Witham) --- St. John the Baptist sent his disciples not to satisfy his own doubts, but for the sake of his disciples, who, blinded by the love they bore their Master, and by some emulation, would not acknowledge Christ to be the Messias. (St. Chrysostom in Baradius) --- This expression of St. John is much taken notice of, as conveying with it a very particular question. “Tell me, says St. John, now that I am departing out of this world, whether thou art coming to redeem the patriarchs and holy fathers; or wilt thou send another?” (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- And St. Chrysostom also explains it thus, Art thou he that art to come to limbo? but the Baptist omitting this last word, sufficiently indicated to our Saviour what was the purport of this question. St. Jerome and St. Gregory say, that by his death, he was going to preach to the holy fathers that Christ, the Messias, was come. John does not here propose this question as ignorant of the real case, but in the same manner as Christ asked where Lazarus was laid. So John sends his disciples to Jesus, that seeing the signs and miracles he performed, they might believe in him. As long, therefore, as John remained with his disciples, he constantly exhorted them to follow Jesus; but now that he is going to leave them, he is more earnest for their belief in him. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

(Rev. George L. Haydock, Commentary on Matthew 11:3, Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary [New York, NY: Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1859]; underlining added; italics given.)

What a different picture now emerges from that given by the False Pope in Rome! It was not to settle his doubts that St. John the Baptist wanted the disciples to ask Jesus if He was truly the Messiah — he had none himself — but to help put away their doubts and uncertainties.

Francis totally ignores the orthodox explanation given by the various Saints and Scripture authorities quoted above, and instead causes scandal in his hearers, claiming that St. John the Baptist pondered in himself whether he had perhaps given testimony not to the true Messiah but to a charlatan! The blasphemy is revolting and sickening!

Then again, this is nothing new for Francis. He once claimed the very same thing even about the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she too had doubts right at the foot of the Cross, asking herself if perhaps God had lied to her! Don’t believe it? Or don’t remember it? Here is the original story:

As you can see, Francis is no stranger to blasphemy. In addition to the above, his track record also includes all of the following, and then some:

In all this, one cannot help but be reminded of these words of Holy Scripture: “And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Apocalypse 13:6).

Setting the Record straight...

When did Nestorius Lose his Office?
A Refutation of John Salza & Robert Siscoe


Cardinal Louis Billot, S.J. (1846-1931)

The huffing and puffing anti-sedevacantist apologists over at are currently busy publishing countless excerpts from their 700-page book as separate, individual articles. One such article posted on Feb. 2 criticizes Sedevacantists for pointing out that Nestorius automatically and immediately ceased to be the valid bishop of the see of Constantinople at the moment he became a public heretic, and not only after a legal declaration by the Church. This, John Salza and Robert Siscoe maintain, is false: “Nestorius was not deposed by ‘Divine law’ the moment he began preaching heresy, but was instead deposed after the Church itself rendered a judgment”, they argue (italics given).

But is this true?

The main text usually quoted on this by us Sedevacantists comes from Saint Robert Bellarmine, the great Doctor of the Church, from his book On the Roman Pontiff:

Pope Celestine I, in an epistle to John of Antioch, which is contained in Volume One of the Council of Ephesus, ch. 19, says: “If anyone who was either excommunicated or exiled by Bishop Nestorius, or any that followed him, from such a time as he began to preach such things, whether they be from the dignity of a bishop or clergy, it is manifest that he has endured and endures in our communion, nor do we judge him outside, because he could not remove anyone by a sentence, who himself had already shown that he must be removed.” And in a letter to the clergy of Constantinople: “The Authority of our See has sanctioned, that the bishop, cleric or Christian by simple profession who had been deposed or excommunicated by Nestorius or his followers, after the latter began to preach heresy, shall not be considered deposed or excommunicated. For he who had defected from the faith with such preaching, cannot depose or remove anyone whatsoever.”

(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice: On the Roman Pontiff, trans. by Ryan Grant [Mediatrix Press, 2015], p. 308)

This text Salza and Siscoe are trying to spin into a support for their position. They write:

All [Pope St. Celestine I] said is that the excommunications and depositions inflicted by Nestorius, after he began preaching heresy, were later declared to be null and void. But this in no way implies that he had already been deposed ipso facto by Divine law. It just means that the unjust acts of the one who himself was on the road to excommunication (Nestorius) were later declared null.

(John Salza and Robert Siscoe, “Sedevacantism Proven False by the Case of Nestorius”,; italics given.)

Later in their essay, the authors repeat their central thesis one more time: “Nestorius did not lose his office when he began preaching heresy (but only after he was deposed by a council three years later)”.

To prove this claim false, we will simply refer our readers to someone who addressed the matter with a bit more competence than the ex-Masonic Wisconsin tax attorney and his theological sidekick: Cardinal Louis Billot, S.J. (1846-1931). Fr. Billot is considered to be the main drafter of Pope Saint Pius X’s landmark encyclical against Modernism, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907). On June 19, 1909, Pius X appointed Billot as a consultor to the Holy Office (see Acta Apostolicae Sedis I, p. 538), and in 1911, the same Pope raised the Jesuit priest to the rank of cardinal. It is no exaggeration to say that Billot was one of the most brilliant Catholic theologians of the twentieth century.

In his Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (“Treatise on the Church of Christ”), Cardinal Billot addresses the question of occult (secret) vs. public heresy and teaches, in agreement with other theologians, that occult heretics are still members of the Church, whereas public heretics are not. Juxtaposing the consequences of occult heresy with those of public heresy, Billot invokes the case of Nestorius to support his thesis that public heretics cease to be members of the Church from the very moment their heresy becomes manifest, quite automatically and without the need for any judgment or declaration:

At length we come to another argument. To be sure, whoever dwells outside the Church is ipso facto rendered unfit for all ordinary jurisdiction, say, episcopal jurisdiction [1]. The reason is that a person who has ordinary jurisdiction or truly episcopal jurisdiction possesses the dignity of being the head, and no one can be the head of even a particular church if he is not a member of the Church. Indeed, what was ever a head that was not a member? Hence, if occult heresy were to put a man outside the Church, whenever a doubt about the legitimacy and authority of pastors could arise, there would not be moral certitude about their internal faith. But God forbid that the establishment of Christ should endure such a monstrous anomaly whereby the sinews of discipline would be loosened. We do not solely employ more probable arguments in this matter, because distinctly and expressly we are informed that a bishop by reason of heresy does not lose his own power of binding and loosing, except when he preaches heresy and openly professes it. In this regard, among other documents, there is extant the letter of Pope Celestine to the clergy and people of Constantinople in the case of Nestorius, where the Pontiff first urges Catholics to fight bravely for the faith, bear hardships patiently, and not fear exile. “No Christian,” he says, “should bewail a temporal exile imposed upon him, because no one is an exile to God. Let us fear exile from the realm of the living, that is, the realm that we wish to be our homeland. That is our perpetual and eternal abode. Indeed ours is no ephemeral place, but those things are truly ours, which a most certain hope promises.” Then declaring invalid the opinion whereby Nestorius had removed some people from either their office or the communion of the faithful, he continues: “Nevertheless, lest the opinion of one who had already called down upon himself a divine judicial sentence seem valid even at the time, the authority of our See has decreed that, from the moment that Nestorius and those like him begin to proclaim such [heresy], We do not regard as exiled or excommunicated any of the bishops or clerics or Christians by any profession who were dispossessed of office or cast out of communion by him and his followers. Rather all were and still remain in communion with Us, because a person who erroneously preached such [heresy] could not eject or remove anyone” [2]. Therefore you see that a bishop who is a heretic in secret is still vested with the power of binding and loosing, since he loses episcopal jurisdiction and the power of excommunication only from the time at which he begins to preach heresy openly. Furthermore, the conclusion is readily seen. For if he who is not in the Church cannot possess authority in relation to the Church, and a occult heretic can have authority — better still, at some time possesses it in reality — it clearly follows that a occult heretic has not yet been cut off from the body of the Church.


[1] Note the deliberate phrasing: of all ordinary jurisdiction; for with regard to extraordinary and merely delegated jurisdiction in a case of necessity, it is not the same idea, as will be readily clear upon consideration.

[2] Pope Celestine, Epistle 14, n. 7 (Migne, Patrologia Latina, volume 50). Also see the same Celestine’s Epistle 12 to John of Antioch, n. 2: “But if anyone has been either excommunicated or divested of episcopal or clerical dignity by Bishop Nestorius or those who follow him, it is clear that the person remained and remains in communion with Us from the moment [Nestorius and his followers] began to preach such [heresy], etc.”

(Louis Billot, S.J., Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, 3rd ed. [1909], Thesis XI, Q. 7; pp. 300-301; italics in original; underlining added. Translation by Novus Ordo Watch.)

Cardinal Billot is contradicting verbatim the thesis of Salza and Siscoe, namely: “Nestorius was not deposed by ‘Divine law’ the moment he began preaching heresy, but was instead deposed after the Church itself rendered a judgment”. Billot, quoting no less of an authority than Pope St. Celestine, explicitly says that Nestorius had “already called down upon himself a divine judicial sentence” — “already”, as in, “before the judgment of the Church”; and obviously a divine judicial sentence is effective immediately and not dependent upon the Church confirming it later on. This Nestorius did by the public heresy itself (ipso facto). Pope Celestine’s clear statement that those whom the heretical Nestorius had condemned or pretended to remove “were and still remain in communion with Us” underscores the fact that Nestorius lost his office at the moment his heresy was public. Unlike what Salza and Siscoe would have the reader believe, St. Celestine does not say that such are being reinstated or that their reinstatement is to have retroactive force — as though Nestorius had had the power to validly condemn and remove them — but that they “were and still remain in communion with us”. But if this is so, it is because the communion was never lost, and the only way this is possible is if Nestorius, who “removed” them from communion, had no power to do so because he had already lost his office.

Here we see that what Salza and Siscoe are claiming is just a sedevacantist misreading of St. Robert Bellarmine is actually confirmed to be correct by one of the Church’s greatest theologians in the twentieth century! Or what are Salza and Siscoe asking us to believe? That Cardinal Billot got it wrong too? That he did not understand St. Celestine or St. Robert Bellarmine and was ignorant of Church history? That he held a minority position that was highly controversial, without saying so and without justifying it at length?

What’s interesting is that although the two anti-sedevacantist authors list Billot’s Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi in the bibliography of their book (p. 686), somehow the part about Nestorius didn’t make it into their argumentation — despite the fact that they assure us in their foreword (p. 13) that they studied “all of the writings (to our knowledge) of the Church’s greatest theologians on the question of a heretical Pope…” and spent 10 years researching these issues.

In case the objection will now be advanced that “Cardinal Billot was not infallible”, we respond immediately that although true, this is entirely irrelevant. If this obvious remark could be used to simply dismiss what any theologian says, why would the Church bother having theologians in the first place? Even more to the point, why then should anyone bother to look at what Salza and Siscoe have to say, since they too are not infallible and not even theologians? 

Next, the two authors seek support for their idea that Nestorius couldn’t have lost his episcopal see automatically upon the fact of being a heretic, in the Council of Ephesus (431 AD): “Nestorius was deposed three years later at the Council of Ephesus, after the Church had investigated the matter and rendered the necessary judgment.” The authors think that Ephesus lends support to their ideas because the council says Nestorius “should be stripped of his episcopal dignity and removed from the college of priests”. 

This objection is tackled in John Daly’s book against Michael Davies, which neither Salza nor Siscoe apparently came across in their 10 years of research (its first edition was published in 1989):

In passing, it should perhaps also be mentioned that, if any of the Fathers did assert that heretics deserve to be deprived of their dignity, this would not necessarily imply that they had not forfeited their office ipso facto, because it could equally refer to their de facto possession of the external trappings of the office [44].


[44] This would appear to be supported by the nearest instance I know to a statement by a Father of the Church that heretics deserve to be deprived of their dignity. Pope St. Celestine I (422-432) in his letter to John of Antioch preserved in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus (Vol. 1, cap. 19), says:

“If anyone has been excommunicated or deprived either of episcopal or clerical dignity by bishop Nestorius and his followers since the time that they began to preach those things, it is manifest that he has persevered and continues to persevere in communion with us; nor do we judge him to have been removed, because one who has already shown that he ought himself to be removed [‘se iam præbuerat ipse removendum’] cannot by his own judgement remove another.”

Here it is evident that in referring to Nestorius and his supporters as “removendi” – “those who ought to be removed” – St. Celestine does not mean that they retain their offices until deposed. That is precluded by the fact that he expressly judges their authoritative acts to have been null even prior to their deposition. His meaning is evidently that they ought to be removed physically from the accoutrements of the office which they had already ipso facto forfeited. See also the same pontiff’s letter to the clergy of Constantinople.

(John Daly, Michael Davies — An Evaluation, 2nd ed. [Saint-Sauveur de Meilhan: Tradibooks, 2015], pp. 156-157; italics given.)

This is not to say that it was not of the utmost importance for the Church to declare that the loss of office had taken place and move to a full-scale deposition of Nestorius. Deposition is a vindictive penalty which may involve not merely the loss of an ecclesiastical office, which it makes irreversible and perpetual, but also the deprivation of the benefice and dignities attached to the office. If Salza and Siscoe are using the term “deposition” as synonymous with “loss of office”, they are treading on thin ice. The canon law professor Fr. Henry Ayrinhac notes that deposition, at least as the term is used in modern-day church law (since 1917), “implies more than suspension or privation of office”, and, touching upon the question of Church history, he notes that “the language of councils or ecclesiastical writers when treating of this subject often lacks precision”, adding that the language did not become more exact until “the sixth and seventh centuries” (H. A. Ayrinhac, Penal Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law [New York: Benziger, 1920], pp. 163,145). Of course none of this is helpful to the Salza-Siscoe thesis. But with this in mind we now understand how St. Robert Bellarmine could say both that “all the ancient Fathers … teach that manifest heretics immediately [mox] lose all jurisdiction” (De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Ch. 30; p. 309) and yet also maintain that the Council of Ephesus “deposed Nestorius by a command of a letter of the Roman Pope Celestine” (Book II, Ch. 13; p. 217).

Next, Salza and Siscoe attempt to hijack Pope Pius XI for their cause, quoting his encyclical letter on the Council of Ephesus, Lux Veritatis (nn. 11-12), in which the Pope commends St. Cyril of Alexandria’s appeal to Rome before deciding whether to break communion with Nestorius or not. But this will not help our anti-sedevacantist duo either, because while St. Cyril of Alexandria was not sure how to act with regard to Nestorius and therefore prudently appealed to the Holy See, knowing that this See would render a decision he had to abide by — note well, Messrs. Salza and Siscoe! — Pius XI nowhere says that those who immediately cut off communion with Nestorius did anything wrong. What the quote from the encyclical proves is only how St. Cyril acted, and that Pope Pius commended him for it — not, however, as though it would have been impermissible for St. Cyril to break communion with Nestorius before a judgment from Rome, but inasmuch as, unsure about what he should do, St. Cyril appealed to the Apostolic See for help, knowing that this See is pre-eminent and that the true Faith and right counsel can always be obtained from it for as long as it is validly occupied. It is his allegiance and recourse to the Holy See in what was to him a doubtful matter, for which Pius XI praises St. Cyril, not his failure to withdraw from communion with Nestorius per se. So, the anti-sede apologists are reading something into the text of Pope Pius XI’s encyclical that is simply not there. 

This can be proved in another way by looking up the actual letter St. Cyril wrote to Pope Celestine I — something we surely hope Salza and Siscoe did before pontificating about the matter. Writing to the Pope, St. Cyril relates how virtually all Catholics reacted when Nestorius boldly preached his perverse doctrine concerning our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother:

When the most pious Nestorius was sitting on the throne in the assembly of the Church of Constantinople, he arose and dared to say in a loud voice, “If anyone says that Mary is the Mother of God, let him be anathema.” And there was a great shout from all the people and they ran out. They did not want to associate any longer with those who had such opinions, so that even now the people of Constantinople keep away except from a few shallower ones, and those who flatter him. But nearly all the monasteries and their archimandrites, and many of the senators do not join him. They fear lest they be injured in faith, while he and those with him, whom he brought when going up from Antioch, say everything perverted.

(St. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 1-50, trans. by John I. McEnerney [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987], pp. 61-62; underlining added.)

But it gets better still. Cyril then tells the Pope that he himself also refuses communion with Nestorius, although not yet openly (i.e. in public) until the Pope has given him direction on whether it is right and prudent to do so:

But we do not throw off communion with him openly, until we have communicated these matters to your reverence. Wherefore deign to specify what seems best, and whether it is necessary to be in communion with him sometimes, or to forbid henceforward openly because no one is in communion who thinks and teaches such things.

(St. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 1-50, trans. by John I. McEnerney [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987], p. 63; italics and underlining added.)

Clearly, St. Cyril of Alexandria was merely in doubt about how to act in public with regard to Nestorius, and so he turned to the Apostolic See for authoritative guidance. This is what Pope Pius XI is praising St. Cyril for. Would Salza and Siscoe also turn to the (Modernist) “Holy See” for authoritative guidance in any theological matter? Fat chance!

One of the likely reasons why Salza and Siscoe are blundering so badly on this topic is that they confuse the loss of ecclesiastical office for heresy with the punishments for heresy. Loss of office is not a punishment per se, it is simply the necessary consequence of holding a faith different from that of the Church. Since the Church can have only one Faith, he who professes a different one cannot be a member of the Church, much less hold office in her. That’s why in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the loss of office is dealt with in Canon 188, under the section “On Persons”, whereas the punishments for heresy are not covered until Canon 2314, under the section “On Delicts and Penalties”.

With their undue accusation of “private judgment” against Sedevacantists for saying that a manifest heretic loses his office immediately upon the fact, Salza and Siscoe are demonstrating that they do not believe that facts can be known apart from a Church judgment. Yet the Church teaches the exact opposite, legislating in her Code of Canon Law that facts that are “notorious” (Canon 2197 n. 3) — that is, things publicly known and carried out in such circumstances that they could not be concealed — need not be proved in an ecclesiastical court (Canon 1747 n. 1) because it would be pointless to prove something that is already known and cannot reasonably be questioned. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

Canonists have variously classified the legal effects of notoriety, especially in matters of procedure; but, ultimately, they may all be reduced to one: the judge, and in general the person in authority, holding what is notorious to be certain and proved, requires no further information, and therefore, both may and ought to refrain from any judicial inquiry, proof, or formalities, which would otherwise be necessary. For these inquiries and formalities having as their object to enlighten the judge, are useless when the fact is notorious.

(Catholic Encyclopedia [1911], s.v. “Notoriety, Notorious”)

Nor will the authors of True or False Pope? be able to argue that notoriety of fact is tied to a church judgment, because as the text just quoted shows, facts can be notorious even before such a judgment, and, in such a case, require no legal proof at all.

Messrs. Salza and Siscoe are continually misrepresenting the Sedevacantist position when they claim that we hold “that prelates are deposed as soon as individual Catholics ‘discern’ they are heretics by their own private judgment”. Obviously, no Sedevacantist claims that there is a loss of office when someone somewhere thinks that there is. Rather, what causes the loss of office is the objective and notorious fact of public heresy, regardless of who discerns it, and that is or at least can be a matter of objective fact; it does not have to be tied to a legal decision, as we just saw. And while one may perhaps argue about the precise point at which something occult (private) becomes objectively public, or exactly when a heretic is to be considered manifest, this has no relevance to Francis (or most of his five predecessors), for if he is not a public and manifest heretic, then the term simply has no meaning. Pick any heresiarch in history — Arius, Nestorius, Luther, Calvin, Jansen, John Paul II — Francis has them all beaten. That’s how bad the situation is that we are in today, and yet here we have two SSPX apologists writing 700 pages trying to convince you that a man can be the Vicar of Christ who is not even a Christian!

Then again, this absurd idea fits very well into our absurd world: Francis is “Pope” in a world in which Rachel Dolezal is black and Bruce Jenner is a woman. And only in such a world. This is actually quite a consoling thought!


click to enlarge

John Salza and Robert Siscoe are currently in all-out attack mode, and no doubt this will continue still for months to come. In all the rhetorical overkill you will continue to see from them, in all the grandstanding and shouting, in all the lawyerly techniques of persuasion, do not lose sight of one thing: At the end of the day, Salza and Siscoe are arguing that if it weren’t for Francis, and if it hadn’t been for Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI, and John XXIII, then the gates of hell would have prevailed against the Church.

Yeah, sure.

The simple truth is that it is possible for the Holy See to be vacant, but it is not possible for it to defect. And while they naturally insist that they do not believe the Holy See has defected, we all know that, de facto, Salza, Siscoe, and the entire SSPX/ Resistance gang believe precisely this, as their actions and often even their unguarded words betray them. They believe that the papacy has defected and that it is now their job to convert it back to Catholicism.

That is heresy.

Related Links:


     Published February 2, 2016

The “Church of Joy” strikes again!

Not everyone is as gung-ho as Bp. Fellay...

SSPX Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta
Warns of Agreement with Rome


On Sunday, January 17, 2016, Bp. Alfonso de Galarreta of the Society of St. Pius X gave a conference at the St. Vincent de Paul priory in Bailly, France. A short summary of the talk has been posted at the French news portal Médias-Presse-Info. We are happy to provide an exclusive English translation:

For Bishop de Galarreta, it is not to be desired that an agreement between Rome and the SSPX should happen

By Christian Lassale

Summary of the Conference of Bishop de Galarreta in Bailly (78) on January 17, 2016

I—The Atmosphere in Rome

We are witnessing an upsurge of modernism in Rome with Pope Francis. This can have a positive effect in that more and more cardinals and bishops are strongly and publicly reacting against this waywardness.

II—The State of Our Relations with Rome

Concerning our relations with Rome, there exist two distinct paths since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent Bishop Fellay two new documents in July 2015, one doctrinal, and the other canonical.

The doctrinal document is less demanding than the one of 2012, but the required conditions are still unacceptable. They will always be undoubtedly so, given their purpose is to make us accept Vatican II. Even if it were acceptable, it would be necessary to go through the second stage, the canonical one.

The canonical document is also unacceptable, as it puts us in practical dependence upon authorities who want the Church’s harm. They will never be able to accept our necessary conditions for our security. Even if, by some remote chance, they were to accept them, there would remain the third stage: impossible to circumvent, that of the SSPX general chapter.

III—Conclusion: Nothing Will Happen Via This Path

It seems undeniable that the pope wants an agreement (editor’s note: just as Bishop Bernard Fellay has since 2009). He could very well pass over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Fath as he did regarding jurisdiction for confessions. Is this to be desired?

The Advantages: It would allow us to have, according to Bishop Fellay, a broader apostolate.

The Drawbacks: We will often be in inextricable concrete situations with a real risk of losing the unity of the SSPX, because the authorities of the SSPX will inevitably make mistakes, which will cause yet further division.

In conclusion, in the Church’s current state, and for Bishop de Galarreta, it is not to be desired that an agreement should happen

And what if it would happen anyway (say by a “unilateral” recognition)? That would create real trouble in the Fraternity. Numerous priests would refuse and would be tempted to leave. To the extent we will not have sought it (this recognition), we will be unable to do anything. Providence will [would] once again watch over the work of Archbishop Lefebvre. 

Contrary to what certain faithful, present at the conference, understood, Bishop Galarreta did not say, with regard to the foreseeable departure of numerous priests, that “if it must happen, it will happen”, but that everything is in the hands of Providence. The nuance is important.

Christian LASSALE

(Christian Lassalle, “Pour Mgr de Galarreta, il n’est pas à souhaiter qu’un accord entre Rome et la FSSPX intervienne”,; Jan. 29, 2016; bold print in original.)

Because of its contradictory, theologically inept, and wholly uncatholic position regarding the nature of the Church and the nature and authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, the Society of St. Pius X has maneuvered itself into this absurd situation, which is now threatening to tear the entire SSPX apart. The theological chickens are finally coming home to roost; the Lefebvrians must finally face the music of their bizarre theology. (The same goes for ex-SSPX Bp. Richard Williamson — see his colossally disastrous theology in action here.)

While SSPX Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay seems wholly enchanted with the idea of joining up with the Argentinian apostate who styles himself “Pope Francis” — Fellay’s face was virtually glowing at a recent conference when speaking about this topic — apparently not everyone in his Society is on board with him. This promises to be an interesting year, because it is not unlikely that Francis will extend the “ordinary jurisdiction” he granted to all SSPX clerics to hear confessions for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, indefinitely into the future.

As a quick reminder of what Catholics believe about the Church, the Papacy, and the Magisterium, we are once more providing a few relevant links, beginning with a short video clip that sums up the absurdity that would result if we were to hold that Francis is a true Pope of the Catholic Church:

Reality Check for SSPX/Resistance Adherents:


04: Catholic Condemnations of Idolatry

While “Pope” Francis is busy constantly denouncing fake “idolatries”, he never utters a word against real idolatry, which is the literal adoration of creatures in place of the Creator, as found in Paganism, for example. In fact, Heathen religions are seen by the Vatican II religion as good, as acceptable, as somehow putting people in touch with the true God, even — and this is a frightful blasphemy — as “positively willed by God”! Here are some examples of where the New Church tacitly or even explicitly endorses Heathen religions:

The true Catholic Church, however, can never compromise with error and most certainly cannot respect, much less endorse, false religions. A reality check is in order.

First, let’s have a look at what the inspired and inerrant written Word of God has to say about idolatry. See if you can detect Novus-Ordoism in any of these quotes:

  • “For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens.” (Ps 95:5)
  • “Adore not any strange god. The Lord his name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.” (Ex 34:14)
  • “Turn ye not to idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev 19:4)
  • “I will destroy your high places, and break your idols. You shall fall among the ruins of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.” (Lev 26:30)
  • “Thou shalt not have strange gods in my sight.” (Deut 5:7)
  • “Overthrow their altars, and break down their statues, burn their groves with fire, and break their idols in pieces: destroy their names out of those places.” (Deut 12:3)
  • God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn 4:24)
  • “Now whilst Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, seeing the city wholly given to idolatry.” (Acts 17:16)
  • “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)
  • “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Apoc 21:8)

These quotes are not very open-minded, for sure.

In 1947, Pope Pius XII published an encyclical letter on Saint Benedict, in which he relates the following anecdote:

Trusting in God and relying on His ever present help, [St. Benedict] went south and arrived at a fort “called Cassino situated on the side of a high mountain...; on this stood an old temple where Apollo was worshipped by the foolish country people, according to the custom of the ancient heathens. Around it likewise grew groves, in which even till that time the mad multitude of infidels used to offer their idolatrous sacrifices. The man of God coming to that place broke the idol, overthrew the altar, burned the groves, and of the temple of Apollo made a chapel of St. Martin. Where the profane altar had stood he built a chapel of St. John; and by continual preaching he converted many of the people thereabout”.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Fulgens Radiatur, n. 11)

Clearly, no “interreligious dialogue” for St. Benedict, and no “culture of encounter” either.

Like St. Benedict, St. Francis Xavier was another one of those ‘Vatican II Joy’ stoppers. Have a look at what is related about him in Fr. Joseph Vann’s Lives of the Saints:

After their baptism the new Christians go back to their houses and bring me their wives and families for baptism. When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done, witnessing the destruction of the idols by the very people who but lately adored them.

(Lives of the Saints, Dec. 3: “St. Francis Xavier”)

But hey, “nothing has changed”, there has been “no rupture with the past”, right? That is what the apologists for the Novus Ordo Sect like to tell us. How hapless the souls who believe and follow them!

Some may object that today’s interreligious dialogue and ecumenism are necessary to obtain and ensure world peace. Those who argue thus must be ignorant of the true Catholic position, which insists that the only true peace is the peace of Christ, which this world cannot give: “the peace of Christ ... is the only true peace”, Pope Pius XI taught (Encyclical Ubi Arcano, n. 36). Our Blessed Lord said so Himself: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you” (Jn 14:27).

Obviously, the cause of genuine peace is not new, and so it behooves us to read what the pre-Vatican II Popes wrote about it. Here are three important encyclicals on this topic:

Finally, we offer a sobering reality check regarding the grave sin of idolatry from the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: “Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God.

Can you picture any Novus Ordo Vatican clerics reciting it aloud in the presence of their Pagan partners-in-dialogue?

Didn’t think so.

Let us pray that the idolatrous peoples of this world will be freed from their enslavement to false gods and, having the liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ preached to them, will be converted to the only living and true God: “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

CAUTION! Francis Speaks!


Francis’ Subtle Heresy:
Who is a True Christian?

We all know that Francis likes to talk a lot, and he especially likes to point out what, in his view, is required to be a “true” Christian: You must be this way or that way, and you cannot do this or that. For example, you must always “include”, you must welcome everyone without distinction, you cannot be a [insert Bergoglian insult of your choice], you cannot have a funeral face, you cannot have a flight-attendant smile, you cannot be “closed in on yourself”, etc., ad nauseam. On an almost daily basis, we keep hearing the same Modernist blather from a pseudo-theological mind stuck in the 1960s. 

What a lot of people seem to miss, however, is that when Francis says that unless you do this or that, or stop doing this or that, you are not a “true Christian”, he is actually uttering heresy. It is Catholic dogma that what makes you a true Christian is supernatural Faith, and true Faith can exist even without Charity. A Faith without this Charity would not be a saving Faith, it is true, meaning that it would not lead you to Heaven if Charity not be added, but would nevertheless be a true, supernatural Faith, and it would make you a true Christian, a true Catholic.

So, on January 28, 2016, Francis preached a homily in which he once again promoted his “all are welcome” dogma, in the face of a Europe currently being invaded by hordes of anti-Christian Muslims, most of whom are precisely not refugees but mere migrants — not starving families with little children but mostly well-fed, strong, young, testosterone-filled men. Here is what the papal impostor had to say:

And this is one of the traits of a Christian who has received the light in Baptism and must give it. That is, the Christian is a witness. Testimony. One of the peculiarities of Christian behavior. A Christian who brings this light, must show it because he is a witness. When a Christian would prefer not to show the light of God but prefers his own darkness, this enters his heart because he is afraid of the light.  And the idols, which are dark, he likes best. So he lacks: he’s missing something and is not a true Christian. Witness: a Christian is a witness. Of Jesus Christ, the Light of God. He has to put that light on the lampstand of his life.

(“Pope: The Christian has a big heart that welcomes all”,, Jan. 28, 2016; underlining added.)

Aside from the fact that Francis only rolls out the “idolatry” accusation against Catholics, never against actual idolaters, and disregarding for the moment that the “Pope” here is being completely hypocritical in his exhortation to be a witness to Christ — we need only recall, for example, his obsessive desire to hide the cross or crucifix, his stubborn refusal to ever preach Christ to Muslims or Jews, instead reaffirming them in their errors — what Francis uttered here is a Protestant heresy, condemned by the Council of Trent. It is the heresy that Faith without works (“Charity”) is not a true Faith:

Reality Check: “If any one saith, that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or, that the faith which remains, though it be not a lively faith, is not a true faith; or, that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Christian; let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon 28; underlining added). 

Of course, when a man who does not himself possess or profess the true Faith, presumes to lecture the world on what constitutes true Faith, it is not exactly surprising that he should get it wrong.

Lest we be misunderstood, it is necessary to draw some distinctions here so we are clear about what we are saying: Faith without works, that is, the virtue of Faith without the virtue of Charity, will not justify, will not lead to salvation. In this sense it is therefore a dead Faith, as St. James says: “For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:26). However, it is nevertheless a true Faith, albeit dead, as the Council of Trent defined infallibly.

How profoundly important this is can be seen when we consider the implications of Francis' heresy. If Faith without works were not a true Faith, then this would mean that everytime a Catholic loves Charity, i.e. is in mortal sin, every time a Catholic “doesn’t welcome all” or is “closed in on himself”, etc., he is no longer a Christian, no longer a Catholic. It would mean that any and all mortal sin would expel one from Church membership. And this in turn would mean that, since we cannot know who is or isn't in the state of grace at any particular point in time, we could never know who is actually a Catholic, who is a member of the Church. The visibility of the Church would vanish, and it is no coincidence that Protestants deny precisely this visibility.


Even more so, since those who are not members of the Church logically also cannot hold a position of authority in the Church (cf. Canon 188 §4), it would then follow that when a pastor, a bishop, or even a Pope commits a mortal sin and thus loses the virtue of charity (sanctifying grace in the soul), he would at once cease being a valid pastor, local bishop, or Pope. So one could never know who one's legitimate shepherds are who have the valid authority to rule, teach, and sanctify them. Chaos would result, and the Church could not seriously claim to be the only Ark of Salvation, since one would not even be so much as able to identify the Church at any point in history.

In contrast to the Protestant heresy subtly endorsed by Bergoglio, Pope Pius XII taught in his beautiful encyclical on the Church:

Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness. It is owing to the Savior's infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet. For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 23; underlining added.)

Catholic teaching is very clear. It is necessary to have Faith as well as Charity (“works”) to save one’s soul, and it is Charity that gives life to Faith and makes it fruitful. With every mortal sin, Charity is lost and so we no longer possess the supernatural life of grace. However, Faith is not lost, unless, of course the sin was one against Faith itself, such as heresy or apostasy.

The Council of Trent beautifully elaborated on this point:


That, by every mortal sin, grace is lost, but not faith.

In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men, who, by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained, that the received grace of Justification is lost, not only by infidelity whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.

(Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 15; underlining added.)

So we see that it is not simply an academic question of terminology, as in, “Oh well — he says dead faith, you say false faith; what's the difference?” The difference is enormous. It ultimately impacts whether or not we can know who is and isn't a Catholic. That's particularly important in our day, when so many people claim to be Catholics but in fact are not.

How, then, do we determine who is a member of the Church? Pius XII addressed this question in the encyclical already quoted, making the matter very easy to understand:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. “For in one spirit” says the Apostle, “were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.”

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 22; underlining added.)

So, to be a member of the Church, to be a Catholic, you must (1) be validly baptized; (2) profess the true Catholic Faith; (3) not be in schism; and (4) not be under excommunication (here canonists and moralists draw some more distinctions, but these need not concern us here).


Note in particular point no. 2: You must profess the True Faith. Pius XII does not say you need only to believe it, regardless of what you profess. This distinction, again, is crucial because it directly impacts the visibility of the Church: While it is possible, through invincible ignorance, to mistakenly assent to a heresy and yet retain the virtue of Faith, if you outwardly profess your adherence to this heresy, you cease to be a member of the Church. (This contradicts Francis’ other error, this time an error of excess contrary to his error of defect being exposed here, according to which all the baptized are members of the Church, regardless of what Faith they profess. This too is heresy.)

For this reason, the Catholic Church cannot regard individual members of heretical sects as Catholics even if they are not culpable with regard to their heresies and perhaps even possess the virtue of Faith. (The rejection of this all-important consideration is one of the fundamental errors of the False Ecclesiology of Vatican II, which grants “partial communion” to heretics on account of a valid baptism. Please also listen to our podcast on this question.)

For the same reason, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, compiled under Pope St. Pius X and solemnly promulgated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XV, legislates that any public defection from the Faith results in an immediate and automatic loss of office for all clerics, without the need for a declaration: “Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric: ... 4.° Publicly defects from the Catholic faith” (Canon 188 §4). This loss of authority is not a punishment imposed by the Church but simply the necessary and therefore automatic consequence of ceasing to be a member of the Church due to public profession of heresy. (On this, please see also The Chair Is Still Empty” and “Public Heretics and Loss of Office”.)

Defection from the Faith — heresy and apostasy — are simply incompatible, by their very nature, with being a member of the Catholic Church, which is essentially visible according to the divine constitution of her Founder, our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ. (The same goes for schism, which, however, is a sin against charity, not against Faith.)

So, if we take a good look at all of this, what do we conclude? We conclude that there is a delightful irony here: Francis himself is not a true Christian, and he shows this, among many other things, in his teaching about what is necessary to be a true Christian! But not being a true Christian but a heretic, nay an apostate, he is not a member of the Catholic Church and cannot hold any position of authority in her. He is not the Pope and has no right to teach anyone, least of all Catholics, on matters of religion. His “faith” is not only a “dead” faith, it is much worse: it is non-existent. He has no faith, none whatsoever! For the Faith cannot be had in degrees but only as a whole or not at all:

Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanasian Creed).

(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24)

Now don't let yourself be deceived by the two or three “Catholic” things Francis says on occasion, and which the Modernist “conservative” apologists love to harp on, for as Pope Leo XIII pointed out:

“There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition.” The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9)

Not looking too good for Bergoglio and his Modernist gang, huh? Just as a liar does not cease to be a liar just because he tells the truth on rare occasion, so neither does Francis cease to be a heretic just because he says a few little things compatible with Catholicism now and again. Even a broken clock is right twice a day — by accident.

But for all those Ratzinger fans who are now thinking, “Oh, if only Benedict XVI hadn't resigned! If only we still had him! Benedict, Benedict!” — we have a little nostalgia stopper: Some years ago, Fr. Ratzinger uttered the exact same Protestant heresy as Mr. Bergoglio: “[F]aith, if it is true, if it is real, becomes love, becomes charity, is expressed in charity. A faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, Nov. 26, 2008). So says Benedict XVI. Who is right? Ratzinger, already under suspicion of heresy in the 1950s, or the infallible Council of Trent?

“Hermeneutic of continuity,” anyone?

See Also:

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