PART II: FORMAL REPLY TO FR. FRAMER.


Part II
Exposing the Errors of Fr. Paul Kramer
on
Mystici Corporis Christi



       One of the most common errors among Sedevacantists is the belief that the sin of heresy causes the loss of papal office/jurisdiction.  This error is based, in part, on a misunderstanding of a quotation from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi.  Those who embrace this error quickly take it upon themselves to judge whether or not the Pope has committed the sin of heresy (while at the same time declaring “no one can judge the Pope”), and if they personally judge that he has, they immediately conclude that he is no longer Pope. The really “courageous” ones will then publicly declare him to be an antipope, formally separate from him, and accuse those who see through their errors of being too cowardly to call a spade a spade.
       And to be clear, for those who embrace “the sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory, it isn’t necessary for the Pope to publicly admit that he denies a dogma. All that is required is that he seems to be a heretic to them. They take the Douglas Adams approach to reach their verdict – namely, if he walks like a heretic and quacks like a heretic, he must be a heretic; and if he’s a heretic, he’s not the Pope.[1] The following is an example of this, taken from a letter to the Editor of the popular Traditional Catholic website, Tradition in Action:

“I am a sede-vacantist that attends an SSPX chapel here in the Detroit area. I have no degree in theology or canon law, so I try to keep it quite simple: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck; guess what, I bet it's a duck.”[2]

       Pretty simple, isn’t it? You see, when you embrace the “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory, if you personally think the man recognized as Pope by the Church is a heretic, your judgment of the “fact” suffices for you to reject his legitimacy and publicly declare him an antipope, provided, that is, that you have the courage to do so. And the award for the most “courageous” of all Sedevacantists has to go to Richard Ibranyi, who now publicly declares that every Pope and Cardinal since Pope Innocent II (A.D.1130) and every theologian and canon lawyer since the year 1250, have been antipopes and apostates. He writes:

“As of January 2014 I have discovered conclusive evidence that all the so-called popes and cardinals from Innocent II (1130-1143) onward have been idolaters or formal heretics and thus were apostate antipopes and apostate anticardinals. Also all of the theologians and canon lawyers from 1250 onward have been apostates. …  Hence all their teachings, laws, judgments, and other acts are null and void. Therefore, all of the ecumenical councils, canon laws, and other acts from Apostate Antipope Innocent II onward are null and void.”[3]

       While Mr. Ibranyi is an extreme example, those who reject the Popes from John XXIII forward, or only Pope Francis,[4] arrive at their conclusion using the same exact reasoning: the sin of heresy, manifested by public words and acts they personally deem sufficient for them to reach their verdict, severs one from the Body of the Church and causes the loss of office.[5] Their only basis for disagreement among themselves concerning which of the Popes during the last nine centuries have been true Popes, and which have not, is that their private judgment is correct and that of their fellow Sedevacantists is not. And not surprisingly, an ever-increasing number of Sedevacantists are now rejecting Popes prior to Vatican II, due to this erroneous doctrine.[6]
       To be fair, however, we should note that not all Sedevacantists believe the sin of heresy causes the loss of papal office. This particular error was popularized by Fr. Anthony Cekada, and is fervently defended by his band of lay “internet warriors,” but is rejected by the more knowledgeable Sedes.  One Catholic author recently described those who hold Fr. Cekada’s error as being “the lowest rung of sedevacantism.  The better ones” he noted, “avoid such a ridiculous error that leads to so many absurdities.”  His statement is certainly true, even if “the better ones” are few and far between.
       Now, because Fr. Paul Kramer has begun promoting Fr. Cekada’s error, and is now using the same interpretation Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi to justify his rejection of Pope Francis, that Fr. Cekada and his followers use to reject all the Popes from John XXIII forward, we will address the quotation from Pius XII at length. We will see how embracing this “ridiculous error” has caused Fr. Kramer to change his own position repeatedly over the past 18 months, condemning the authors of True of False Pope? today for holding the same theological position he did less than two years ago. We will also address his accusation that our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi “is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world.”
       We will begin by briefly summarizing three sets of classical theological distinctions that are used to explain how the sin of heresy does, and does not, sever a person from the Church. We will then employ each of these distinctions to interpret the teaching of Pope Pius XII in accord with Tradition, exactly as we do in our book.

The Three Key Theological Distinctions

       I: Body and Soul of the Church:  If we employ the Body and Soul distinction discussed in Part I,[7] the sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Soul of the Church, since it destroys supernatural faith, while the crime of notorious heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, since it formally severs the juridical bond of “profession of the true faith.”[8] If the culprit’s heresy is not deemed to be notorious by fact, however, he must be formally judged and declared a heretic by the Church (rendering him notorious by law) before he is legally separated from the Body of the Church.

II: Dispositive vs. Formal Separation: This distinction explains different ways of understanding how heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, without considering a separate unity with the Soul of the Church. According to this explanation, the sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, but not formally. The formal separation from the Body of the Church occurs when the juridical bond is severed by the public act (crime) of notorious heresy (notorious by fact), or when the crime has been judged and declared by the Church (notorious by law).

III: Quoad Se and Quoad Nos:  A third way to explain the same truth is by employing the classical Thomistic distinction between quoad se (of itself) and quoad nos (in relation to us). According to this explanation, a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy, even if it is only internal, ceases to be a Catholic quoad se (of himself), while the crime of notorious heresy causes the culprit to cease being a member of the Church quoad nos (in relation to us). Another way to think of it is that a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy (and loses the Faith) is severed from the Church in God’s eyes, yet remains a legal member of the Church “according to us,” as long as the juridical bond has not been formally severed.
       With the foregoing distinctions in mind, we will now address the quotation from Pius XII that Fr. Kramer and his Sedevacantist friends use to justify the “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory:

Fr. Kramer: “The doctrine that the sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself … is taught plainly and explicitly in Mystici Corporis [which says]:

‘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.” and “For not every sin (admissum) 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’.”[9]

       The first thing to note is that Pius XII is not addressing how, or what is required, for a Pope who falls into heresy to lose his office/jurisdiction. That is not what is being discussed, nor is the subject touched upon anywhere in the encyclical. How a heretical bishop or Pope loses his office, and how heresy separates a Catholic from the Church, are two separates questions, and each question has different distinctions that apply (the loss of office due to heresy will be addressed in Part III). Pius XII is simply repeating the centuries-old teaching that heresy, schism and apostasy sever a person from the Church of their nature, whereas other sins do not. The sin of murder, for example, deprives a Catholic of sanctifying grace and supernatural charity, but it does not sever the culprit from the Body of the Church (even if the he is found to be guilty of the crime), since the act, as bad as it is, does not sever a juridical bond. On the other hand, if a Catholic leaves the Church and becomes a professed atheist, or publicly joins a Protestant or Sedevacantist sect, he thereby ceases to be a member of the Body of the Church by his own act, since public apostasy, heresy and schism do sever juridical bonds which are necessary for a Catholic to retain visible union with the Church.
      Now, to address Fr. Kramer’s interpretation directly, the first thing to note is that Pius XII did not use the Latin word for sin (peccatum), when explaining what, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church. Instead, he chose the word “admissum which (as we point out in our book), is defined as: “a wrong done, a trespass, fault, crime.”[10] Admissum can be translated as sin, but it can just as easily be translated as crime.[11] But in truth, it doesn’t matter which translation of admissum is used, as long as the proper distinctions are employed when interpreting it.
       For example, if we translate admissum as “sin,” we can employ the dispositive/formal distinction and interpret the passage as meaning sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, while at the same time affirming that only notorious heresy severs one from the Body of the Church formally. If we employ the quoad se/quoad nos distinction, we can interpret the passage in accord with Tradition by maintaining that a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy is severed from the Body of the Church quoad se (of himself), while simultaneously affirming, along with Cardinal Billot, that “only notorious heretics are excluded from the body of the Church” quoad nos (in relation to us).  
       Finally, if we seek to interpret the teaching of Pius XII in light of the Body/Soul distinction, we can easily do so by translating admissum as “crime,” in which case the passage would read: “For not every crime, 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.”
       So, it doesn’t matter which translation is used, provided the proper distinctions are made when interpreting it. We should also note that Pius XII himself did not use the Body/Soul distinction in the encyclical, and therefore it is more fitting to interpret the passage using one of the other two sets distinctions, [12] most especially the dispositive/formal distinction.[13]

Addressing Fr. Kramer’s False Accusation Concerning
Our Interpretation of “Admissum

       We begin by briefly addressing Fr. Kramer’s false accusations concerning our interpretation of “admissum,” which he repeats multiple times in his book. The following is yet another example of how Fr. Kramer recklessly, if not intentionally, misrepresents our position:  

Fr. Kramer: Salza & Siscoe go to great lengths to insist that the words ‘admissa’ and ‘admissum’ mean, ‘crime(s)’, and not ‘sin(s)’.”

       Fr. Kramer’s statement is completely false. The following is all we said about admissum in the entire 700-page book: 

True or False Pope?: “It is also worth noting that the word admissum used by Pope Pius XII, which is sometimes translated as ‘sin’ or ‘offense,’ also means ‘crime.’  A crime is a public offense, not merely a sin.” 

       That’s it. A grand total of two sentences in over 700 pages. Never do we “insist” that admissum means crime, but only state that “crime” is another permissible meaning of the word. In fact, when we quote this passage of Mystici Corporis in True or False Pope?, we translate admissum as “offense,” not as “crime.” Again, this is one of countless examples of how Fr. Kramer completely misrepresents our position. He repeats a version of this same false accusation over and over again in his book, and always using it as the basis for a barrage of insults, while employing the most derogatory and inflammatory rhetoric possible.

Fr. Kramer Again Relies Upon “Excerpts”
From Sedevacantist Websites

       So, where did Fr. Kramer get the idea that we “insist” admissum must be translated as crime? You guessed it. He got it from a Sedevacantist website, and he even admits the same. In fact, it came from the same article that caused him to entirely misunderstand what we meant by the word “alone” (as in “the sin of heresy alone does not sever a person from the Church”), which then resulted in the two false accusation of heresy/straw man arguments that were discussed in Part I.
       Here is Fr. Kramer summarizing the article in question (written by a Sedevacantist layman) that he mistakenly relied on to discover our “heresies.” Notice also how he sets up the false accusation concerning “admissum” with three insults in one sentence:

Fr. Kramer: “Speray mentions that Salza/Siscoe simply repeat an older Salza error on this point: ‘The sin of heresy alone does NOT sever the person from the Body of the Church because sin is a matter of the internal forum’; and, ‘Again, Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy’ (…) The quotation Salza refers to is Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (…) Salza’s nearly gnostic distortion [1] and falsification [2] of Pius XII's teaching resorts to an esoteric understanding [3] of a plainly expressed and universally taught doctrine, that the act of heresy by its very nature separates one from the Church. He [Salza] does this by uncritically and falsely interpreting the word ‘admissum’ to strictly mean ‘crime’ as opposed to ‘sin’.

       By relying on what “Speray mentioned” on his Sedevacantist website, instead of actually reading our book for himself as any prudent person would do, Fr. Kramer ended by entirely misunderstanding our position – not only in minor points, such as our translation of admissum, but in more fundamental matters as well (i.e., the errors mentioned in Part I). We wonder if Fr. Kramer is aware that the Sedevacantist layman he relied upon rejects the new rite of ordination, and believes Kramer himself is a layman.  
       Fr. Kramer’s authority (Mr. Speray) is also amongst the ever-increasing number of Sedevacantists who reject pre-Vatican II Popes. Where Mr. Speray differs from his fellow Sedes, however, is that he doesn’t only reject the Popes whom he personally judges to have been “manifest heretics” (e.g., Popes Honorius and Alexander VI), but also rejects the legitimacy of those he believes to have been unfit for the Papacy for other reasons.  He rejects the papacy of Pope Stephen VI, for example, because he personally judges that his “mental capacity was unstable.” In Mr. Speray’s own words: 

 “There is no question that Stephen’s mental capacity was unstable. Because of his insanity, Stephen should be considered an antipope. One theologian says this isn’t a novel understanding among canonists: ‘…the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity’ (Introductio in Codicem, 1946 .D. Udalricus Beste). Who would not think Stephen was mad after the cadaver synod? … Stephen VI’s case shows that either the Church has failed to view him as insane, or that She recognized an insane pope given that he is viewed as a true pope by his successors and placed on the official papal list.”[14]

       You see, if Steven Speray thinks a Pope who lived over a thousand years ago was “unstable” (which he equates with being “insane”), his judgment of the “fact” suffices for him to declare that the man “should be considered an antipope” – even the Pope in question has always been “viewed as a true pope by his successors” and is “placed on the official papal list”! And if Mr. Speray were correct, it would not be “either” (as he wrote above) but “both”, since he believes the Church has failed to view Stephen as insane, and has recognized an insane pope as a true Pope. 
       Furthermore, the consequences of Mr. Speray’s position are far graver than he realizes, since, as the great Cardinal Billot and others teach, if the entire Church were to recognize an antipope as the true Pope, the gates of hell would have prevailed. Hence, Mr. Speray’s position is not simply that “the Church has failed” to recognize that Stephen was an antipope, but that Christ himself failed to keep His Promises.  
       What’s more, the legitimacy of an undoubted Pope falls into the category of a dogmatic fact.  This particular dogmatic fact[15] is qualified as theologically certain (one opinion) or de fide (second opinion), the denial of which is a mortal sin against the faith,[16] or heresy.[17]  This, however, does not hinder Mr. Speray from publicly denying the legitimacy of an undoubted Pope and declaring that other Catholics should do the same.  This is the person Fr. Kramer relied upon to accurately present our position, and who he quotes throughout his book!  Incredible.
       Let us now return to Mystici Corporis Christi.

Does Msgr. Van Noort Contradict Our Position?

       Next, Fr. Kramer makes the bold assertion that our interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any reputable theologian in the world, and quotes Msgr. Van Noort as his supporting evidence:

Fr. Kramer: “The Salza/Siscoe interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world. Mons. Van Noort wrote:

‘b. Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors — baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy — pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. 'For not every sin [admissum], however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy'. (Dogmatic Theology, Volume II, Christ’s Church, p. 241 - 242.)”

       Contrary to what Fr. Kramer was led to believe by reading Sedevacantist websites, what Van Noort wrote reflects our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi perfectly. The context of the quotation from Van Noort concerns what is necessary for a person to be a member of the Church (which is a point that is debated by theologians). Notice, Van Noort explicitly states that the reason public heretics are not members of the Church, is because “they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith,” (i.e., they sever the juridical bond of “profession of the same faith”).  That is precisely what we argue at length in Chapter Three of our book when treating of who can properly be considered a member of the Church!
       And the fact that Van Noort translated admissum as sin (which is likely what Fr. Kramer was referring to) in no way implies that he disagrees with our interpretation of the passage. As we have noted, we have no objection to this translation, as long as it is understood that the internal sin of heresy alone only separates a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, but not formally (or quoad se, but not quoad nos). And we can be absolutely certain that Van Noort agrees with us concerning this point, since he himself taught the exact same doctrine – and he did so the very next page!
       Here is what Msgr. Van Noort wrote one page after the quotation Fr. Kramer cited as “proof” that no theologian agrees with our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi:

 Van Noort: “Internal heresy, since it destroys that interior unity of faith from which unity of profession is born, separates from the body of the Church dispositively, but not yet formally.” (Dogmatic Theology, Volume II, Christ’s Church, p. 242.)
       Van Noort’s interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi, as well as his theology concerning how the internal sin of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church (i.e., dispositively) reflects our position perfectly! In fact, Van Noort’s three-volume set of dogmatic manuals was one of the primary theological sources we consulted when writing our chapters on ecclesiology in True or False Pope?

Does Fr. Fenton Contradict Our Position?

       Fr. Kramer then noted that Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton likewise translated admissum as sin, and then following up with this false accusation: “yet Salza [and Siscoe] blindly and obstinately insists that such an interpretation is a sedevacantist ‘abuse’ of a faulty translation of Mystici Corporis…” This is yet another false statement.  Not only have we never claimed that “sin” is a faulty translation of admissum, or a “Sedevacantist abuse,” as Fr. Kramer claims, but we actually quote the very teaching of Msgr. Fenton that Fr. Kramer is referring to, in which admissum is translated as sin (see: True or False Pope? p. 158). 
       We can be certain that Msgr. Fenton did not have the Body/Soul distinction in mind when he translated the passage, since he was opposed to this distinction, due to how it was being misused in his day.[18] We can also be certain that Msgr. Fenton did not interpret the passage in question as meaning the internal sin of heresy alone causes a loss of membership in the Body of the Church (which is the interpretation we reject in True or False Pope?), since he wrote an entire article for the American Ecclesiastical Review[19] to explain why such an interpretation is not tenable.[20] We quote portions of this article in True or False Pope? to defend our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi, which, needless to say, is the same as that of Msgr. Fenton (see p. 158-159). In fact, the quotation Fr. Kramer is referring to, in which Msgr. Fenton translated admissum is translated as “sin,” is taken from that very article!
       Suffice it to say that neither Msgr. Van Noort, nor Msgr. Fenton, disagree with our interpretation of Mystic Corporis Christi in the slightest. On the contrary, their ecclesiology is identical to our own.

Fr. Kramer’s Old Teaching (in 2016):
The External Act of Heresy is a Crime,
and the Crime Severs A Person From The Body Of The Church

       Something that became apparent soon after Fr. Kramer launched his public campaign against True or False Pope?, is that he repeatedly changes his position, and condemns us today for saying precisely what he himself said yesterday (we have saved the many “drafts” he has emailed to his followers during this time). The sin of heresy vs. the crime of heresy is a case in point, as we will now see.
       In one of his early attempted refutations of our position, Fr. Kramer correctly noted that the only difference between the sin of heresy and the crime of heresy is that the latter requires an external act, whereas the former does not. This is correct, and exactly what we say in our book, since even external occult heresy is a canonical crime punishable by an ipso facto excommunication (which does not have a juridical effect in the external forum). Based on his own correct explanation of the sin vs. the crime, Fr. Kramer went on to rightly say the internal sin of heresy only severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the public crime severs one from the Body of the Church. Here is Fr. Kramer in his own words:
      
Fr. Kramer: “The sin of heresy can be distinguished from the crime solely according to the circumstances or whether or not the sin was committed internally, i.e., in thought [sin], or by an external act [crime].  The internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church, because it is by the internal act of faith that one is united to the soul of the Church; but the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church … until the act of severing communion by an external act has been committed. The public heretic ceases to be in communion with the Church by the very fact of his crime.”

       Now, after Fr. Kramer embraced Fr. Cekada’s “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” he reversed his position. He now rejects what he wrote above, and even claims that the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime. We will address his new position in a moment, but before doing so let us compare what Fr. Kramer wrote above to the following quotations from our book that he now declares to be sententia hæretica (“close to heresy”):

Fr. Kramer:  Sententia hæretica [close to heresy]: ‘The sin of heresy alone does NOT sever the person from the Body of the Church because sin is a matter of the internal forum’;  and ‘the sin of heresy alone does not automatically expel one from the body of the Church’; (…) ‘The correct interpretation of Pope Pius XII’s teaching is not that he was referring to the internal sin of heresy alone, but to the public offense (the crime) of heresy, which, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church with no further censure attached to the offense.’ … Salza & Siscoe manifest a profound ignorance of Fundamental Moral Theology.”

       So, in the earlier quotation, Fr. Kramer himself said “the internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church” but “does not sever one from the body of the Church,” yet one year later he declares that the above propositions from our book (which express the exact same teaching) are “close to heresy,” and reflect “a profound ignorance of Fundamental Moral Theology” on our part!  For clarity, let’s compare the two teachings this way:

Fr. Kramer holds (in 2016): “The internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church, because it is by the internal act of faith that one is united to the soul of the Church; but the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church.”

Fr. Kramer condemns (in 2017): The sin of heresy alone does NOT ‘sever the person from the Body of the Church’ because sin is a matter of the internal forum”; and “the sin of heresy alone does not ‘automatically expel’ one from the body of the Church” (Salza/Siscoe).

       As you can see, Fr. Kramer previously said “the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church” (meaning the internal act is insufficient to do so, and hence an external act is also required). Now he contradicts himself by condemning the very same proposition, that “the sin of heresy alone [meaning without an external act] does not sever a person from the Body of the Church.” 
       This reversal in his position brings up another point worth commenting on. Fr. Kramer always boasts about the training he received in the Roman seminaries of the 1970s (which Traditional priests at the time declared to be “hotbeds of heresy and Modernism”[21]).  For example, he recently wrote the following to John Salza:

Fr. Kramer: “You did not study Philosophy and Theology in Rome in a pontifical university as I did, under the last generation of Angelicum Thomists, who were the luminaries of the Dominican order before Vatican II … You think Fr. ___ [a priest who is one of the most brilliant minds we know RS/JS], an SSPX graduate of the Ecône seminary is more competent than the renowned Dominican scholars, all with doctorates and some with multiple doctorates, who were my mentors at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas! You manifest yourself to be an arrogant and clownish buffoon ...”

       But if Fr. Kramer received such rigorous training from the “luminaries of the Dominican Order” in the 1970s, why has he repeatedly changed his position over the past 18 months, after embracing Sedevacantist errors? Also, why has Fr. Kramer failed to employ any of the Thomistic theological distinctions noted above that he would have surely learned from his Dominican professors in Rome? And did those Dominican luminaries teach Fr. Kramer to publicly refute theological works without first reading them, based on excerpts (the context of which is unknown), taken from the writings of Sedevacantist laymen, as he has done in our case? And, further, did those luminaries from the Dominican order teach Fr. Kramer that it is permissible for a Catholic to publicly declare the man recognized as Pope by the Church is an antipope and separate from him, if he personally believes the Pope committed the sin of heresy? Just what kind of seminary education did Fr. Kramer receive from those Dominican luminaries?
      
Fr. Kramer’s Two New Arguments

       Fr. Kramer has come up with two brand new arguments in an attempt to refute his former position. 1) He now claims that external heresy is a sin, and not a crime.  He uses this to insists that it is the sin of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, not the crime of heresy, as he previously taught. 2) And it is not just the word “crime” that he objects to, since he also declares that it is forbidden for one to hold that the internal act of heresy severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act of notorious heresy severs a person from the Body. Again, both of these new teachings are directly contrary to what he taught a mere 18 months ago. We will address both these new arguments now.

New Position #1:
Fr. Kramer Now Says the External Act of Heresy
is a Sin and Not a Crime

       In order to defend his new position that the sin of heresy, not the crime, severs a person from external union with the Body of the Church, Fr. Kramer now insists that the external act of heresy does not meet the canonical definition for the nature of a crime. As evidence for this, he cites a canon from the 1917 code (he only provided the Latin), which defines the nature of a crime as “an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction.”  He then quotes a canon from the 1983 Code that says “no one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept… is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.” He then gratuitously asserts, without explaining why, that “it does not pertain to the nature of heresy that it is ‘an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept’,” and concludes by saying “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.”
       Here is the argument in Fr. Kramer’s own words. He sent the following out via e-mail, after the publication of Part I of this series of articles, and then posted it online, as his official “refutation” of our statement that “external heresy is, by its nature, a crime.” We are including the English translation of the entire canons that Fr. Kramer only partially quoted in Latin:

“CIC 1917, Book V Part I defines "the nature of a crime": De natura delicti eiusque divisione. Can. 2195. §1. Nomine delicti, iure ecclesiastico, intelligitur externa et moraliter imputabilis legis violatio cui addita sit sanctio canonica saltem indeterminata. [A crime is an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction].

Likewise, in the 1983 Code, Canon 1321 § 1: “externa legis vel praecepti violatio”, which is “graviter imputabilis ex dolo vel ex culpa”. [No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.]

“Salza & Siscoe now claim: ‘The external act of heresy is, by its nature, a crime.’ This is patently false: The nature of a crime in ecclesiastical law is of an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept. It does not pertain to the nature of heresy that it is ‘an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept’; and therefore, the proposition is false. The external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.

       Now, it should be obvious that there is a problem somewhere in Fr. Kramer’s reasoning, since external heresy is a crime punishable by Canon Law (Canon 2314, 1917 Code; Canon 1364.1, 1983 Code), which would not be the case if it did not meet the canonical definition for the nature of a crime. We should also note that a crime (delictum) is not limited to an offense against “merely ecclesiastical laws” (human positive law), but also includes offenses against divine law.[22]  External heresy is a violation of both ecclesiastical law and divine law.
       In his celebrated commentary on the 1917 Code, Fr. Augustine begins by explaining that “a crime in ecclesiastical law is an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction,”[23] and then, eight pages later, writes: “The Decretals enumerate quite a list of crimes subject to ecclesiastical judicature: apostasy, heresy, usury, simony, sacrilege, incest, adultery, bigamy, usurpation of ecclesiastical power, and so forth.” Thus, Fr. Augustine says the “external” (and morally imputable) act of heresy is a “crime,” while Fr. Kramer says “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.”[24]
       In fact, the very canon that Fr. Kramer cited as “proof” for his assertion that the external act of heresy does not meet the definition for the nature of a crime (canon 2195, §1) is referenced by the canonists when explaining that the external act of heresy is a crime, and that internal heresy is not. For example, in his commentary on Canon 2314, which pertains to the penalties for the crime of heresy, Fr. Augustine writes:

“The crime of apostasy, heresy, or schism must be exteriorly manifestaccording to canon 2195.1; because merely internal apostasy, heresy, or schism do not belong to the external forum and therefore are not intended here.”[25]

       So, Fr. Augustine says heresy must be external to meet the definition given for a crime provided in Canon 2195, while Fr. Kramer cites the very same Canon (in Latin only) to defend his new position that “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.” Fr. Kramer would do well to return to the teaching he learned from the luminaries of the Dominican order, and abandon his new position which is certainly “not shared by any academically qualified theologian (or canonist) in the world.”
       Before concluding this section, and to respond to the accusation of some of Fr. Kramer’s followers who insist that “Siscoe and Salza made up the distinction between a sin and a crime,”[26] we will provide the following brief explanation of the difference between a sin and a crime, given by Father Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D. of the Theological Centrum Manila. He writes: “A sin belongs to the internal forum (the forum of conscience) and refers to the relationship between a man and God,” whereas “a crime belongs to the external forum and refers to the relationship between a faithful and the ecclesial society....” He went on to repeat the well-known saying that “all crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes.”  This is what Fr. Kramer himself held a mere 18 months ago, before embracing Fr. Cekada’s “ridiculous error,” and abandoning what he was taught by the “Dominican luminaries” in the seminary.
       Also worth noting is how the sin of heresy and the crime of heresy are defined in the Filial Correction, which was signed by 62 clerics and theologians. In short, the document affirms, as we have, that the judgment of the sin of heresy pertains to the internal forum, and that the external act of heresy (the pertinacious public denial or doubt of revealed truth) is a canonical crime:

“The sin of heresy is committed by a person who possesses the theological virtue of faith, but then freely and knowingly chooses to disbelieve or doubt a truth of the Catholic faith. Such a person sins mortally and loses eternal life. The judgment of the Church upon the personal sin of heresy is exercised only by a priest in the sacrament of penance.” (Cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:18; Jn. 20:23; Rom. 14:4; Gal. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; Jude 3-6; Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, DH 1351; Council of Trent, Session 14, can. 9.)

“The canonical crime of heresy is committed when a Catholic a) publicly doubts or denies one or more truths of the Catholic faith, or publicly refuses to give assent to one or more truths of the Catholic faith, but does not doubt or deny all these truths or deny the existence of Christian revelation, and b) is pertinacious in this denial. Pertinacity consists in the person in question continuing to publicly doubt or deny one or more truths of the Catholic faith after having been warned by competent ecclesiastical authority that his doubt or denial is a rejection of a truth of the faith, and that this doubt or denial must be renounced and the truth in question must be publicly affirmed as divinely revealed by the person being warned.” (Cf. Matt. 18:17; Tit. 3:10-11; Pius X, Lamentabili sane, 7; John Paul II, Code of Canon Law, 751, 1364; Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, 1436)

      We will discuss the role of ecclesiastical warnings in Part III.

Fr. Kramer Explicitly Condemns
His Very Own Words!

       Now, since Fr. Kramer’s new argument is clearly contrary to what he wrote a mere 18 months ago, and because Fr. Kramer always denies contradicting himself when the contradiction is pointed out, we decided to respond to the e-mail in which he sent out the above argument, by quoting his own words, without telling him the words were his own. How did he respond? Did he recognize his own writing style, as we suspected would happen, or perhaps see the truth in his former position when it was presented to him as he himself formulated it? Nope. Instead, he responded by declaring his own previous teaching to be “incredibly ignorant” and “patently and absurdly false.” Here is his reply (the underlined words are his own):

Fr. Kramer: “You ignorant rants have descended to the level of lunacy: The external act of heresy is in its nature a sin, but is not in its nature a crime. … The specific nature of heresy (as I pointed out in my book) is identically defined in Moral Theology as a sin, and in Canon Law as a crime (i.e. “the pertinacious denial or doubt of a revealed truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith”).  Thus, the nature of heresy is the same for the internal sin, the external sin, and the crimeYour incredibly ignorant statement that, ‘The sin of heresy can be distinguished from the crime solely according to the circumstances of whether or not the sin was committed internally’ is patently and absurdly false. … you only succeed in manifesting your utter incompetence and your profound ignorance of the subject matter.

       We suspect that “the luminaries of the Dominican Order” would disagree with their former student’s harsh criticism of his previous position, but would likely not object if phrases such as “incredibly ignorant” and “patently and absurdly false” were used to describe Fr. Kramer’s new position – i.e., “that external heresy is a sin, and not a crime”.

New Position #2
Fr. Kramer Now Says the Nature of the Act of
Internal and External Heresy is the Same

       Fr. Kramer also now claims that it is forbidden to maintain that the internal act of heresy, of its nature, only severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act, of its nature, severs one from the Body. This is the reasoning Fr. Kramer gives for this new position:

A)    He begins by noting that Pius XII teaches that the nature of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church.
B)     He then states that the internal act and external act of heresy are of the same nature. His “proof” for this assertion is that the definition for the sin of heresy (in Moral Theology), and the crime of heresy (in Canon Law), are the same.
C)    Now, since it is the nature of heresy severs a person from the Body Church, and because (as he believes) the internal act and external act of heresy are of the same nature, Fr. Kramer concludes that it is forbidden to say (as he did 18 months ago) that the internal act of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act, of its nature, severs one from the Body.

       The following is the new argument in Fr. Kramer’s own words:

Fr. Kramer: “Salza's error …[is this]:  ‘Separation from the Soul of the Church is intrinsic to the nature of the internal act of heresy, and separation from the Body of the Church is intrinsic to the nature of the external act of [notorious] heresy, even if external heresy were not a crime in canon law.’

The false premise on which [Salza’s] proposition is based is that the internal act and the external act are each of a different nature … However, the nature of both is one and the same. … It is for this reason that Pius XII does not qualify his teaching by saying that only the external acts of heresy, schism, and apostasy by their very nature separate a man from the Body of the Church … The specific nature of the internal act, the occult external act, and the public act of heresy is identical, and is expressed in the definition of heresy [given in Moral Theology and Canon Law]: the ‘pertinacious denial or doubt of a revealed truth that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith’. The qualitative accidental cirumstance [sic] of the act being internal or external is therefore extrinsic to the specific nature of the act of heresy.” (…) “The specific nature of the sin of heresy and that of what is properly defined as notorious heresy are one and the same nature: they are both of the same species of heresy.

       We respond, firstly, by noting that the definition of heresy, as such, may be defined the same for the sin of heresy in Moral Theology and for the crime of heresy in Canon Law, but the definition of the nature of the act that qualifies as a sin, and the nature of the act that qualifies as a crime, are not the same, since, as we have seen, an internal act alone suffices for the sin, whereas “an external and morally imputable” act is required to meet the definition of the nature of a crime (Canon 2195.1, 1917 Code). This is why Fr. Kramer’s reference to the definition of heresy from Moral Theology and Canon Law does not support his position.
       Second, since Fr. Kramer attempted to defend his position using Thomistic metaphysics (i.e., “qualitative accidental circumstances”, “species”), we will refute his argument in like manner by noting that an internal act and an external act are two different physical acts, with two different objects,[27] proceeding from two different principles. As St. Thomas explains:

“The principle of the interior act is the interior apprehensive or appetitive power of the soul; whereas the principle of the external action is the power that accomplishes the movement. Now where the principles of action are different, the actions themselves are different.”[28]

       To illustrate this point, the interior act of faith is to believe;[29] the external act is to confess the faith.[30] The interior act of heresy is to disbelieve (or refuse to assent); the external act is to deny (or to express a doubt about) the faith. 
       Now, while it is true that interior and exterior acts combine to form one thing in the moral order, and that the combined acts are of the same moral species (since an act derives its species for its formal object), the natural genus of the internal act alone is distinct from the natural genus of the two acts when combined. This latter point is what refutes Fr. Kramer’s error, as we will now see.
       A true luminary of the Dominican Order, Cardinal Thomas Cajetan - whose brilliance Fr. Kramer’s former seminary professors would have no doubt attested to, and whose authority they would have readily acknowledged - explains that the reason interior acts and exterior acts are distinct, according to their nature, is because an external act can, of its nature, be judged by man (“man seeth the things that appear…”), whereas an interior act, of its nature, can only be judged by God (“…but God beholdeth the heart”[31]). The difference between the nature of the respective acts (spiritual vs. sensible) is what results in the acts themselves being of a different genus. The Master of the Dominican Order goes on to explain that the difference in the genus is why heresy hidden in the heart does not incur the censure of excommunication, whereas an external act of heresy does, even if the external act has no witnesses. He writes:

“[I]f anyone falls into heresy internally and, being alone, expresses that heresy to himself with spoken words in the merest whisper, he is excommunicated, even though it is entirely hidden, because the act of speaking it aloud itself subjects him to human judgment, as such, even though the act lacks witnesses.  (…) internal acts are not judged according to their nature as purely internal, but rather in so far as they are cases of external commission … Many have erred in this matter due to ignorance of this distinctionPurely internal acts are in the genus of things hidden by their natures, because they are unknowable to human knowledge of their own nature. External acts are of the genus of things … accessible to human knowledge.”[32]

       As we can see, the difference between the internal act and external act of heresy is not due to “qualitative accidental circumstance,” but is found in the very nature of the respective acts, which are distinct in their genus. The interior sin “refers to the relationship between man and God” (Fr. Achacoso) and is judged “only by a priest in the sacrament of penance” (Filial Correction), while the exterior act concerns the relationship between a baptized person and “the ecclesial society” of the Church (Fr. Achacoso). Because of the natural genus of the act, “the sin of heresy alone” neither incurs the censure of excommunication, nor does it formally sever a person from external union with the Body of the Church – just as we says in Chapter Three of True or False Pope?.
       The distinction between the genus of the respective acts reveals the error in Fr. Kramer’s second new argument, and Fr. Kramer’s error confirms what Cajetan himself said – namely, that “many have erred … due to ignorance of this distinction.”
       In Part III, we will begin our discussion on papal heresy and what is required for a heretical prelate to lose his office. As noted previously, the question of how heresy severs a person from the Church (which is what has been addressed thus far in Parts I and II), is a different question from how a heretical bishop or Pope loses his office/jurisdiction. A failure to make the proper distinctions, or attempting to answer the latter question with a distinction that applies to the former, is at the heart of Fr. Kramer’s and his Sedevacantist friends’ error.  Part III will include arguments and recently translated material from Bellarmine that most people have never seen, which further demonstrate why the Sedevacantist position – and the position of Fr Kramer - is false.




[1] They will then “prove” he’s not the Pope by saying “Bellarmine teaches that a Pope who is a manifest heretic automatically ceases to be Pope,” as if 1) Bellarmine’s opinion is infallible, and 2) their personal judgment that he is guilty of the sin of heresy means he meets Bellarmine’s definition of a “manifest heretic” (which is not the case with any of the recent popes, as we will see in Part III).
[2]  https://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/E033_Sedevantism01.htm
[3] Richard Ibranyi, “No Popes or Cardinals since 1130,” January 2014. 
[4] There are some, such as Fr. Kramer, who claim Benedict XVI is the legitimate Pope, and use the Sedevacantist errors in an attempt to “prove” that Pope Francis is not.
[5] For now, and as noted below, we put aside their other error which equates being severed from the Body of the Church with the loss of ecclesiastical office/jurisdiction (this contention – which is a key error of Fr. Paul Kramer – will be addressed in the next installment).
[6] One example is a new sect calling itself Our Lady’s Resistance, who rejects all the Popes since Leo XIII.
[7] The Body/Soul distinction is used by Pope St. Pius X, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Baltimore Catechism, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, Wilhelm and Scannel, and many other authorities.
[8] Note that it is the external act of notorious heresy, by its nature, that severs one from the Body of the Church. This means the separation from visible communion (the Body) is intrinsic to the nature of the act itself (i.e. public renunciation of the “profession of the faith”), without regard to positive law (which is extrinsic to the act), because the external bonds of the Church are part of the Church’s divine constitution.
[9] "Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmod i est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet."
[10] Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary
[11] To understand why Pius XII would have used the word admissum, which can mean an interior sin or public crime, it is necessary to mention a debate that has divided theologians for centuries. The debate concerns whether the interior virtue of faith is necessary for a person to be considered as a true member of the Church, or if only the external juridical bonds are necessary, as is taught by Bellarmine, Fenton, Van Noort, and many more.  Now, since the interior sin of heresy destroys the virtue of faith, if Pius XII had used a word that referred exclusively to the sin of heresy, or exclusively to the crime of notorious heresy, it would have likely been viewed as him giving his judgment on which of the two opinions is correct, and you can rest assured that those who held the opinion he favored would have exploited it. If Pius XII did not intend to render a judgment concerning this debate – and it is certain that he did not intend to do so since he didn’t directly address it - all that was required for him to avoid the appearance of doing so, was to use a neutral word that did not support either opinion - which is precisely what the word admissum does. Pius XII’s word choice certainly reveals his brilliance and theological astuteness concerning the surrounding debate.
[12] The Body/Soul distinction is unique in the sense that it refers to a union with the Soul of the Church, distinct from a union with the Body of the Church, whereas the other two sets of distinctions do not. 
[13] This distinction is most commonly used to explain how heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, and therefore most corresponds exactly to the terminology used by Pius XII used.
[14] Steve Speray, Papal Anomalies and Their Implications, Second ed. pp. 71-72.
[15] The infallibility of canonization is sometimes included in the category of dogmatic facts, but it only qualified as the “common opinion,” and the common opinion is not binding on the faithful, as are teachings that are qualified as theologically certain or de fide.
[16] "On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them" by Fr. Sixtus Cartechini.
[17] This was the opinion of John of St. Thomas and Suarez, and remains a common opinion today.  See, the Original Catholic Encyclopedia article on Dogmatic facts.  
[18] Msgr. Fenton wrote numerous articles for the American Ecclesiastical Review to combat various errors that a misunderstanding of the Body/Soul distinction had caused during his day.
[19] Status of St. Robert Bellarmine’s Teaching About The Membership of Occult Heretics In the Catholic Church, Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol CXXII, No. 3, March 1950.
[20] Msgr. Fenton’s article was written in response to an article by Francis X. Lawlor, S.J., titled Occult Heresy and Membership in the Church which attempted to interpret the teaching of Pius XII as meaning occult heretics ceased to be members of the Church. (Occult Heresy and Membership in the Church, Theological Studies, X, 4, Dec. 1949, 553).
[21] “The State of Seminaries Today,” Fr. Terry Marks, The Angelus Magazine, July, 1985.
[22] Delictum is taken from the word delinquere (de and linquere, to forsake, to leave, to omit) and means an offence in the general sense. However, by common usage the term is restricted to a public offence or crime against the juridical order or law. Therefore it is called a transgression of the law, whether divine or human, i.e., merely ecclesiastical. … the transgression which the ecclesiastical law considers is not merely the guilty mind (mens rea) … it is essential to the notion of a delictum that it be an external act…” ~ Fr. Augustine, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, (London: Herder Book Co., 1918) p. 11.
[23] Ibid. p. 10
[24] Ibid. p. 18
[25] Ibid. p. 278
[26] It has been pointed out to us that people have begun making this assertion on internet forums and in comment sections below articles.
[27] St. Thomas: “Now, in a voluntary action, there is a twofold action, viz., the interior action of the will, and the external action: and each of these actions has its object. The end is properly the object of the interior act of the will: while the object of the external action is that on which the action is brought to bear. Therefore just as the external action takes its species from the object on which it bears: so the interior act of the will takes its species from the end, as from its own proper object. … the species of a human act is considered formally with regard to the end [interior act], but materially with regard to the object of the external action [external act].” (ST I-II, q. 18, a. 6).
[28] This is taken from an objection. However, St. Thomas does not disagree with the point that is made, but only states that the argument does not pertain to the issue being addressed. Here is his reply: “This argument proves that the internal and external actions are different in the physical order: yet distinct as they are in that respect, they combine to form one thing in the moral order, as stated above” (St. Thomas I-II, q. 20, a. 3, ad 1).
[29] St. Thomas I-II, q. 2, a. 1.
[30] St. Thomas I-II, q. 3, a. 1.
[31] 1 Kings (I Samuel) 16:17
[32] Cajetan, De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, ch. XIX

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