The following is part of a lengthy group e-mail exchange that took place between the authors of True or False Pope and Fr. Kramer. We are posting it here in order to expose, not only Fr. Kramer’s contradictory position, but also the falsehood he is now spreading by claiming we have misrepresented his position.
Fr. Kramer denies that he adheres to the “Second Opinion” listed by St. Bellarmine in De Romano Pontifice. The Second Opinion (which Bellarmine refutes, and which has been completely abandoned) is that a Pope who falls into secret heresy (i.e., loses the virtue of faith) automatically ceases to be Pope. This is what Fr. Kramer holds due to his erroneous belief that the virtue of faith is required for a Pope to “exercise infallibility” (a doctrinal novelty that Fr. Kramer invented). During the e-mail exchange, Fr. Kramer first denied holding this position, before later admitting (as we will see below). Before admitting that he holds the Second Opinion, he provided another citation from something he wrote previously which indicates that he does not hold the Second Opinion, but this citation only shows that Fr. Kramer holds two contradictory positions at the same time.
Because Fr. Kramer has accused Robert Siscoe of being “a bold faced liar” for stating that he holds the Second Opinion, we are posting the following from a lengthy group e-mail exchange that took place several months ago. Once again, I remind the reader that the Second Opinion, which Fr. Kramer denies holding, is that, in the hypothetical case of a Pope losing the virtue of Faith, he would lose his office. Here is the e-mail that proves this is what Fr. Kramer holds.
I hope everyone can see the duplicity and contradiction in Kramer’s position and the deceptive means he uses in an attempt to conceal it. I will address his latest argument about Pastor Aeternus (which he got from a Sedevacantist website) in another e-mail.
I am going to preface this reply by pointing out that Fr. Kramer’s tactic is to verbally attack his opponents with the most venomous and demeaning language possible, while constantly boasting about himself and the training he received in Novus Ordo seminaries (the same training the other Novus Ordo priest received). Boasting about himself while lying about and demeaning his opponents are the accidents he uses to conceal the defects in the substance of his arguments. They are also a transparent attempt to intimidate his opponents, which is clearly not working.
Now, let’s look at the substance of Fr Kramer’s position, which contains a DIRECT contradiction between two propositions that he explicitly holds (which no “accidents” can conceal). Then we will see how he seeks to escape from this dilemma.
In the first set of citations below, we will see that Fr. Kramer explicitly states that a pope who lacks “the virtue of faith” – even if he is “externally a member of the Church” - cannot remain a true pope. If you recall, he originally denied holding this position [which is the Second Opinion listed by Bellarmine in De Romano Pontifice] and called me an “incompetent lunatic,” who “grotesquely misrepresent [him] with crude caricatures of [his] theological position” for asserting that he did, before later admitting that what I asserted was correct.
Fr. Kramer’s Position
Fr. Kramer: “Faith, not merely the material and external profession of the objective content of faith, but the virtue of faith as a principium operationis is necessary to be in the soul of person of the pope as its subject in order to receive and preserve within himself the form of the supreme pontificate (…) it would clearly be impossible for one to be a valid Roman Pontiff without the virtue of faith.”
“A heretic would necessarily cease to be pope because even if he were only externally a member of the Church, he would lack [the virtue of] faith as the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility …”
And if there remains any doubt as to what Fr. Kramer believes would happen if, hypothetically, a pope were to lose the virtue of faith, he clarified it one last time.
Kramer: “For the record, I do indeed hold that hypothetically, losing the virtue of faith, the pope would lose office …. (e-mail to John Salza, Jun 21, 2017 at 3:09 AM).
These quotations leave absolutely no doubt as to what Fr. Kramer’s position is, until he states the exact opposite:
Fr. Kramer Directly Contradicts Himself
When Fr. Kramer was asked to clarify if he believes an occult heretic remains a member of the Church, he sent this:
Kramer: “I also wrote, ‘in the case of a secret heretic, the heretic has not pronounced judgment against himself, thereby ceasing by his own judgment against himself to be pope, as does the manifest heretic; and does not cease to be a visible member of the Church as does the manifest heretic’."
This is a direct contradiction to what he wrote in the previous citations, since even a secret heretic lacks “the virtue of faith” which Fr. Kramer claims is necessary for a Pope to be a true Pope.
Then, in a follow up e-mail, he attempted to divert attention away from the direct contradiction by implying that his opponent was somehow at fault.
Fr. Kramer: “Please note my words, ‘a secret heretic does not ceasse to be a visible member of the Church’. Is it the malice of a ‘convenient memory’ or simple dementia that causes you memory to fail to recall these words that I wrote and sent to you?”
This makes no sense and does not help his position, since his assertion that a secret heretic remains a member of the Church in no way reconciles the direct contradiction in his stated position that a pope who is a secret heretic does, and also does not cease to be Pope. What constitutes “membership” in the Church, and what causes a pope to lose his office, are two separate questions.
In fact, even Fr. Kramer shows that the two questions are distinct when he states that “A heretic would necessarily cease to be pope because even if he were only externally a member of the Church, he would lack [the virtue of] faith” (notice the distinction between a secretly heretical Pope remaining an external member of the Church, yet ceasing to be pope).
Fr. Kramer’s comment was nothing but a verbal scheme (with no substance), consisting of a transparent attempt to confuse the issue by implying that his opponent was somehow at fault, which is par for the course for Fr. Kramer.
His Attempted Escape
Now let’s see how he attempts to avoid dealing with the direct contradiction in his own stated position. He does so by referring to “Opinion #1” that Bellarmine addresses in De Romano Pontifice. This opinion is that a Pope cannot lose the faith in the first place. Bellarmine calls this opinion “pious” and says it is “easily defended,” but he admits that “the common opinion is the contrary.” Therefore, because the common opinion was that a Pope could lose the faith, Bellarmine addresses four additional opinions concerning what would happen if he did.
The Second Opinion is that a Pope would cease to be Pope if he lost the virtue of faith. This is what Fr. Kramer himself holds. He has explicitly stated that, in the hypothetical case of a Pope losing the faith, he would cease to be Pope. Bellarmine refutes this position of Fr. Kramer.
In order to get around the fact that Bellarmine refutes his position, Fr Kramer then seeks to divert the reader to a different question altogether by saying he believes a Pope will never lose the faith in the first place (Opinion 1). But that is a different question. The question is, what if he does lose the faith? Does this cause him to lose his office or not? Fr. Kramer says yes, while Bellarmine and everyone else says no.
Just because Fr. Kramer thinks Opinion 1 is correct, it does not change the fact that he explicitly disagrees with Bellarmine concerning what would happen if he did lose the faith; nor does Fr. Kramer’s belief that Opinion 1 is correct help him to escape the direct contradiction in his own stated position concerning what would happen if a Pope did lose the virtue of Faith (i.e., he would cease to be Pope, and he would not cease to be Pope)".
No matter how he attempts to spin it – and no matter what “accidents” he cloaks his argument with - Fr. Kramer cannot get around the fact that he simultaneously holds two contradictory positions, which is contrary to the principle of non contradiction and therefore irrational.
Lastly, Fr. Kramer claims that no theologian has refuted his disastrous “170 page” paper, but that is not correct. A traditional priest and author, who is probably the best theologian I know, refuted Fr. Kramer’s central argument in a private e-mail to me. I also sent him my own refutation of Fr Kramer’s error to review. He responded by agreeing entirely with my refutation and then added another point of his own that I had not thought of. So, just because priests are too busy with their own pastoral work to dissect and refute Fr. Kramer’s constantly changing paper (how many revisions are we at so far?), should not be interpreted as implying that they are unable to do so.