Fr. Kramer's Canonical Confusion


Fr. Kramer: “A public heretic is one who obstinstely denies or doubts a revealed truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith in such a manner that is publicly known or will soon be publicly known. such a heretic is by canonical definition a public heretic, who is ipso facto separated from the body of the Church, and loses ecclesiastical office ipso jure.”

Siscoe: Father, with all due respect, that is so manifestly absurd on its face and so easily shown to be false when considered in light of the historical practice of the Church, that it is difficult to believe you actually wrote it.  

No bishop or priest in 2000 years of Catholicism has lost his office, ipso jure, for merely doubting a dogma with obstinacy, in a manner that “will soon become” publicly known. That's not how it works. The Church is a juridical institution with laws and procedures governing how heretics are to be deprived of their office. In a case such as you described above, the Church would first juridically determine that the matter (the proposition, as such) was heresy, as opposed to a lesser error. The culprit would then be issued a canonical warning providing him ample opportunity to renounce the heresy, BEFORE any loss of office would take place.

       Below is an excerpt from The Delict of Heresy (1932), by Fr. MacKenzie, which describes part of the process:

MacKenzie: “The discussion thus far has been confined to the simple heretic, and to the basic excommunication which is incurred by the commission of this delict. Canon 2314 imposes penalties upon two further offenses which are aggravated forms of the delict of heresy. Obdurate heresy — cases in which the delinquent perseveres in his erroneous tenets despite official correction by judicial superiors — receives a very severe punishment which will be examined in detail in the following two chapters. The essential note of this aggravated delict is the fact that the heretic continues obstinately to hold to his error despite clear knowledge that all the forces of the Church, her teaching authority and her judicial and coercive authority, are arrayed in condemnation of the heretical doctrine. This state of obsordescentia of its nature indicates that there is no possibility that the heretic is in ignorance of the malice of his sin. The heretic’s acts or words have been judicially established as heretical, and perhaps have been made the basis of a declaratory sentence. Furthermore, the heretic has been warned of impending canonical proceedings in which the heinousness of his delict is amply indicated by the grave punishments which are threatened if he shows continued contumacy. All of this indicates that heretics who are guilty of the delict punished by the second number of this first section of canon 2314 are necessarily formally guilty in both the internal and external fora, and that none of the excuses and extenuating circumstances considered above can be alleged in their favor. The penalties established for heretics of this type include, first, a privation of any benefice, dignity, pension, office or other charge which the heretic may have hitherto held in the Church, together with juridical infamy. (…) even if he later repents and returns to the communion of the faithful, he can do so only as a simple member of the Church, without any rank above that of the ordinary faithful. This penalty presupposes that the heretic had previously been served with a canonical warning, and that the warning had not been heeded, in the sense that the heretic did not recant within the time specified for that purpose. In the case of clerics, a further process may be instituted, beginning with a new warning; if this warning goes unheeded, and the heretic is thus proved still to continue pertinaciously and contumaciously in his error, a sentence of deposition may ensue. These vindictive penalties may indeed be assessed against any heretic whose delict can be judicially proved, and who thereafter refuses to recant and make reparation for the scandal and damage caused by his delict” (MacKenzie, Delict of Heresy, 1932, cap. IV).

That’s how the Church deals with cases of heresy.  No one loses their office “ipso facto” for simply making a heretical statement or doubting a dogma with pertinacity in a way that will be publicly known.   

It appears that you have fallen for the Sedevacantist error of combining the definition of the sin of heresy with the canonical definition of public and concluding that one who meets the combined meaning of the two has “publicly defected from the faith,” and lost his office, ipso facto, according to canon 188.4 (which is no longer on the books). Even a cursory reading of the approved commentaries on canon 2314 (1917 Code) should enable you to see the embarrassing absurdity of that Sedevacantist error.

A public heretic is a public non-Catholic - that is, someone who adheres to a non-Catholic sect, or a baptized person who does not belong to any sect.  Here is the definition of a public heretic taken from Salaverri’s Sacrae Theologiae Summa

“A public heretic is someone who openly adheres to some heretical sect.” (Salaverri, Sacrae Theologiae Summa 1B, 1955, lib. 3, cap. II, art. 3) 


Tanquerey provides a similar definition of a publicly known heretic:

“All theologians teach that publicly known heretics, that is, those who belong to a heterodox sect through public profession, or those who refuse the infallible teaching authority of the Church [i.e., who belong to no church or sect], are excluded from the body of the Church.” (Tanquerey, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 1, 1959, p. 160)

[Fr. Kramer was asked to provide a single historical example to support his position.  Below is his reply]

Paul Kramer “The Council of Constance declared Pedro de Luna [aka Benedict XIII] to have had already lost all office and ecclesiastical dignity ipso jure for having made assertions which WOULD SOON THEREAFTER become public.”

Siscoe: Is that so? That’s all it took for the council to declare that the [anti] pope lost his office, ipso jure? There were no warnings, no lengthy canonical process to investigate and legally establish the charges against him? There was no declaration that he refused to “hear the Church” (Mt 18:17) by heeding warnings he had received? There was no determination by the Council of Constance that he was a notorious and contumacious heretic and schismatic, before he was declared separated from the Church and deposed? All he did was make heretical assertion that “would soon thereafter become public”?  

Let’s compare your assertion with the historical facts. Here’s a brief overview of what preceded his deposition by the Council.

The first thing to note is that the events occurred during the Great Western Schism, when there were three papal claimants - John XXIII, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII (Peter de Luna) - and it was nearly impossible to know which of the three was the real pope. The Council of Constance was called in an attempt to resolve the matter.

The Council was opened in November of 1414 by John XXIII, the only pope to show up, and it proceeded to deposed him six months later (May 1415). For the good of the Church, Gregory XII agreed to step down if Benedict XIII would do the same, since it would clear the path for a single undisputed Pope to be elected so the decades-long schism could final be brought to an end.

The council dispatched an envoy of bishops and theologians to meet with (Antipope) Benedict XIII in the hope of securing his abdication. He was offered every possible concession (including accepting his cardinals as legitimate) to which he replied with duplicity and lies, before eventually fleeing to a seaside fortress where he began issuing papal bulls, one of which excommunicated those who refused to accept him as pope. His actions scandalized most of those who believed he was the legitimate pope and they agreed to withdraw from him. 

  • A report of the events reached the council in November, 1416, and a formal process began to investigate various charges against him.
  • Three weeks later the citations against Benedict and his obedience were decreed by the Council.
  • On March 8, 1417, Benedict was formally ACCUSED of contumacy.
  • The formal investigation continued.
  • On April 1st, he was formally accused of contumacy a second time.
  • Six weeks later (May 12th), it was legally established that he was contumacious.
  • The legal process continued for another two months.

Finally, after all the charges against him had been fully investigated and legally established by the bishops at a general council (not by a blogger in his mother’s basement 5000 miles away), the council issued the follow decree which formally declared him outside the Church and deprived of any and all titles. 

The follows is taken directly from the Council of Constance:

Council of Constance, July 26, 1417: “… The Lord is just and loves just deeds, his face looks on righteousness. But the Lord looks on those who do evil so as to cut off their remembrance from the earth. Let there perish, says the holy prophet, the memory of him who did not remember to show mercy and who persecuted the poor and needy. How much more should there perish the memory of Peter de Luna, called by some Benedict XIII, who persecuted and disturbed all people and the universal church? For, how greatly he has sinned against God’s church and the entire Christian people, fostering, nourishing and continuing the schism and division of God’s church How ardent and frequent have been the devout and humble prayers, exhortations and requests of kings, princes and prelates with which he has been warned in charity, in accordance with the teaching of the gospel, to bring peace to the church, to heal its wounds and to reconstitute its divided parts into one structure and one body, as he had sworn to do, and as for a long time it was within his power to do! He was unwilling, however, to listen to their charitable admonitions. How many were the persons afterwards sent [as official representatives of the Council] to attest to him! Because he did not listen at all even to these, it has been necessary, in accordance with the aforesaid evangelical teaching of Christ, to say to the church, since he has not listened even to her [the church], that he should be treated as a heathen and a publican. [Mt. 18:17] All these things have been clearly proved by the articles coming from the inquiry into faith and the schism held before this present synod, regarding the above and other matters brought against him, as well as by their truth and notoriety. The proceedings have been correct and canonical, all the acts have been correctly and carefully examined and there has been mature deliberation. Therefore this same holy general synod, representing the universal church and sitting as a tribunal in the aforesaid inquiry, pronounces, decrees and declares by this definitive sentence written here, that the same Peter de Luna, called Benedict XIII as has been said, has been and is a perjurer, a cause of scandal to the universal church, a promoter and breeder of the ancient schism, that long established fission and division in God’s holy church, an obstructer of the peace and unity of the said church, a schismatic disturber and a heretic, a deviator from the faith, a persistent violator of the article of the faith One holy catholic church, incorrigible, notorious and manifest in his scandal to God’s church, and that he has rendered himself unworthy of every title, rank, honour and dignity, rejected and cut off by God, deprived by the law itself of every right in any way belonging to him in the papacy or pertaining to the Roman pontiff and the Roman church, and cut off from the catholic church like a withered member. This same holy synod, moreover, as a precautionary measure, since according to himself he actually holds the papacy, deprives, deposes and casts out the said Peter from the papacy and from being the supreme pontiff of the Roman church and from every title, rank, honour, dignity, benefice and office whatsoever. It forbids him to act henceforth as the pope or as the supreme and Roman pontiff. It absolves and declares to be absolved all Christ’s faithful from obedience to him, and from every duty of obedience to him and from oaths and obligations in any way made to him. It forbids each and every one of Christ’s faithful to obey, respond to or attend to, as if he were pope, the said Peter de Luna, who is a notorious, declared and deposed schismatic and incorrigible heretic, or to sustain or harbour him in any way contrary to the aforesaid, or to offer him help, advice or good will…” (Council of Constance, Session 37, July 26, 1417)

That’s how the Church dealt with a heretical "Pope" ('doubtful Pope' during the GWS).  The council spent seven months investigating the matter thoroughly, sent numerous warnings, gave him amble opportunity to respond, and when all was said and done, declared him deprived of the pontificate, and then, to remove all doubt, it deposed him.  

The council did not, as you falsely claimed, declare him to have lost his office, ipso jure, for simply making heretical assertions "which WOULD SOON THEREAFTER become public.”

What I would draw attention to is the lack of proportion between the reason you said the Council declared him deprived of the pontificate - i.e., assertions that would become public - and the reason the Council itself gave: persistent, notorious and contumacious heresy and schism that had been "clearly proved" by "a general synod representing the universal Church". This same lack of proportion is the root error of most of the arguments used by the confused Sedevacantists, who equate whatever definition of “public heretic” they personally come up with, with a “public defection from the faith,” and conclude that anyone who meets their definition (whatever that is) has “tacitly resigned” from office, and hence lost it, ipso facto, “without a declaration” (Canon 188.4).  That is exactly what you have done.

I will repeat what I wrote previously: no bishop (or priest) in 2000 years of Catholicism has lost his office, ipso facto, for merely making heretical assertions that would become public, while he remained in peaceful possession of his see. It has never happened a single time in the history of the Church, and it never will. 

Paul Kramer: "The Council had no power to 'legally establish the charges', because the see was vacant, and a council possesses no jurusdiction during a vacancy of the apostolic see. The Fifth Lateran Council defined that the pope possesses absolute power over a council, so there exists no possibility for canonical warnings to be administeted to a pope, nor to legally establish charges against a reigning pontiff."

Siscoe: Benedict III was an antipope during the Great Western schism, when there were three disputed Popes. “Papa Dubius est Papa Nullus” (a doubtful pope is considered no pope). It is generally agreed (and Bellarmine says) that at a time such as this a council has authority to use whatever means necessary to resolve the matter.

One of the necessary means was a canonical procedure that investigated the claims against the antipope and, if found guilty, legally declare him not to be pope and/or depose him. The third Article from the Treaty of Narbone, which was drafted while the representatives of the Council were meeting with the followers of Benedict XIII about withdrawing from him, explains why the legal proceedings and formal deposition was deemed necessary:

“Article III: But as Benedict's said Obedience cannot legally recognize any Pope, unless the See becomes vacant, either by the Death, or by the voluntary Abdication, or by the deposing of Benedict; the Council, before they elect another Pope, shall proceed to such Deposition in due course of law…”

Since the council and Benedict's obedience agreed that it was necessary for him to be legally deposed, and since the council had the authority to do what was necessary to end the schism, the Council of Constance did not err when it legally establish Benedict's crimes, declared him deprived of any title, and deposed him. If it did err in doing so, then Pope Martin V erred in approving it.

“there exists no possibility for canonical warnings to be administered to a pope” (Kramer).

In the case of a Pope, the warning is not an act of jurisdiction, but an obligation of charity (fraternal correction), as Bellarmine explains:

“Peter allowed himself to be reprimanded by Paul because that was not a juridical censure, but a fraternal correction. For, as Augustine says in letter 19 to Jerome, and Gregory in homily 18 on Ezekiel, Paul does not reprimand Peter, as a superior judges inferiors with authority, but as inferiors sometimes correct their superiors out of charity.” (De Romano Pontifice, lib. 2, cap. xxvii).

Now read again what the Council said concerning Benedict XIII:

Council of Constance: Benedict XIII  … has sinned against God’s church and the entire Christian people, fostering, nourishing and continuing the schism and division of God’s church.  How ardent and frequent have been the devout and humble prayers, exhortations and requests of kings, princes and prelates with which he has been warned in charity, in accordance with the teaching of the gospel, to bring peace to the church, to heal its wounds and to reconstitute its divided parts into one structure and one body, as he had sworn to do, and as for a long time it was within his power to do! He was unwilling, however, to listen to their charitable admonitions.

a pope cannot be judged for so long as he is pope, because it pertains to the nature of judgment that it is an act of jurisdiction.” (Kramer)”

A pope cannot be judged with a coercive judgment while he remains pope, but he can be judged with a discretionary judgment, as Bellarmine and everyone else admits.  A discretionary judgment is a legal judgement, but one that lacks any coercive force.   The nature of the judgment is merely to decide or determine facts, not to punish or impose penalties.  Bellarmine explains that a discretionary judgment is the form of judgment used by an Arbitrator, not a judge in the true sense of the word.  He also lists many Popes who were indeed judged in this manner, including Leo IV who willingly submitted to the judgment of the Emperor and agreed to obey whatever was decided.  

Since a discretionary judgment does not include any coercive force it is not, of its nature, forbidden in the case of a Pope. This is the form of judgment the Church would exercise in the case of a Pope who was accused of heresy.  The Church would investigate charges and reach a verdict (discretionary judgment); Christ would authoritatively depose the Pope by severing the bond that unites the man to the office; then the Church would judge and punish the former pope (coercive judgment).  As we will see later, this is how Bellarmine himself says the process would unfold, in quotations that you will never find on a Sedevacantist website.

[Fr. Kramer then responds to the earlier quotation from MacKinzie’s Delict of Heresy]:

Paul Kramer “The canons you quote are of the PENAL SECTION OF THE CODE, and have nothing whatsoever to do with TACIT RENUNCIATION OF OFFICE, which is not a penalty, but is incurred IPSO JURE, and WITHOUT ANY DECLARATION (sine nulla declaratione).” (Fr. Kramer)

Siscoe: That’s because I posted the section that corresponds to the definition of a "public heretic" that you came up with, and your definition doesn't constitute a “tacit resignation from office” as the practice of the Church proves.  Any cleric who meets your definition of a public heretic would fall under the provisions of canon 2314.2, which requires that the matter of heresy is legally established, and the culprit is issued two warnings and allowed a sufficient time to recant, BEFORE he can be deposed.  The ipso facto loss of office results from a different and far worse category of heresy, as described in the next section of the canon, (2314.3). 

But let's see what MacKenzie says about “tacit resignation” due to a public defection from the faith (canon 188.4), even though this canon is no longer on the books.  We will begin with his commentary on canon 2314.3, since it directly relates to 188.4:

“Canon 2314, §1, n. 3. legislates for another aggravated form of the delict of heresy; namely where the delinquent, in addition to his heretical words or acts, formally joins some non-catholic sect, or at least publicly adheres thereto.” (The Delict of Heresy, 1932):

Notice that in addition to “manifesting heresy” by heretical words and acts, the heretic in this category has also joined a non-Catholic sect, or at least publicly adhered to it. That is the difference between c. 2314.2 and c. 2314.3.  He continues:

“The peculiar malice of this form of the delict of heresy (2314.3] is to be found in the fact that the heretic is not merely guilty of personal errors in regard to revealed religious truth, but likewise has made himself a co-operator in the organized life and activities of a society opposed to the one true Church of Christ. The text of this legislation is as follows: ‘if they have joined a non-Catholic sect, or publicly adhered to it, they are ipso facto infamous, and clerics, in addition to being considered to have tacitly renounced any office they may hold, according to Canon 188.4, are, if previous warning proves fruitless, to be degraded” [Canon 2314.3]

As we can see, a cleric who leaves the church and join a non-catholic sect is considered to have “tacitly renounced” his office, according to canon 188.4; not a cleric who meets your definition of a “public heretic”, since one who he meets your definition falls under the provisions of the previous canon (2314.2). The reason Canon 2314.2 makes no mention of tacit resignation from office, and canon 2314.3 does, is precisely because the latter is a far greater degree of heresy: not simply heretical words and internal guilty, but a public separation from the visible society of the Church.  There is a qualitative difference between the two.

Fr. MacKenzie continues by explaining the relation between Canons 2314.3 and 188.4 on tacit resignation:

“If a cleric is guilty of this AGGRAVATED DELICT [c. 2314.3], the Code makes two further provisions. The first is referred to in the text quoted above: 'the tacit resignation of an office, which resignation is accepted in advance by operation of the law, and hence is effective without any declaration. §4 ‘if he has publicly defected from the faith’.” [Canon 188.4]

“This canon (188, §4) is one from the section treating of resignations from ecclesiastical charges; and the import of this section is that the act of severing connection publicly with the Church is a tacit resignation from any office, benefice or position, which resignation is accepted by the Church, without formal notice of acceptance being necessary on the part of the Bishop or any other official. IN OTHER WORDS, A CLERIC WHO JOINS A NON-CATHOLIC SECT STRIPS HIMSELF, BY THIS VERY ACT, OF ANY ECCLESIASTICAL POSITION HE MAY PREVIOUSLY HAVE HELD, AND NO LONGER HAS ANY RIGHTS OR POWERS DERIVING FROM THAT POSITION.”
That’s the correct interpretation of tacit resignation by law (canon 188.4) and the correct meaning of "public defection from the faith."

Now, I can already hear the objection: But canonist X and canonist Y say a person does not have to join a non-Catholic sect to fall under the provisions of canon 188.4. Yes, some canonists do say that, but why do you think they bother to mention it in the first place?

The reason they do so is because the question that naturally arises is: what if the culprit does not join a non-Catholic sect, but commits an equally egregious act, such as publicly renouncing belief in God, or leaving the Church to become a “home alone” Sedevacantist heretic?  Would such acts, or others that have an equivalent degree of notoriety as joining a non-Catholic sect, render the office vacant? 

Most canonists answer yes, since it is reasonable to conclude that an equally egregious form of heresy or apostasy would likewise be accepted by the Church as a tacit resignation, but not an act with a lesser degree of notoriety, such as one that meets YOUR definition of a “public heretic”.

You are wasting your time appealing to canon 188.4 to prove any of the recent popes lost their office, ipso facto, since none of them have committed an act of heresy or apostasy that is equivalent to publicly joining a non-catholic sect. Another problem is that canon 188.4 (1917 code) is no longer on the books, and the 1983 code that is currently in force has entirely eliminated the category of tacit resignation.

One final point is that canon law itself provides that when applying canons to individual cases, favorable things are to be given a broad interpretation, while odious ones are to receive a strict interpretation. The Sedevacantists, of course, do the exact opposite. They seek out the most broad interpretation of canon 188.4 they can find and use that canonist's commentary in attempt to prove the recent popes lost their office (or never acquired it).  You’re doing the same by interpreting the phrase “public defection from the faith” as equivalent to the definition of a “public heretic” that you invented, and then using it an attempt to persuade simple laymen who have never studied this, that Francis or Benedict lost their office, ipso facto, "without a declaration".

Paul Kramer Although Canon 188.4° is no longer in force, its identical provision is found in Canon 194 of the 1983 Code. What you mendaciously claim is a "sedevacantist error" on loss of office for defection from the faith is precisely what is explained in the Salamanca and Navarra commentaries on Canon Law. YOU ARE A CHARLATAN!"

Siscoe:  No they are not identical, and the two essential differences between them reveal how egregiously you have misrepresented Canon 194.2. 

In the 1983 code ‘public defection from the faith’ (194.2) is not considered “tacit resignation,” since that category was entirely eliminated from the new code.

This is explained in the very commentary that you referred to above, the “Exegetical Commentary On The Code Of Canon Law’, prepared by the faculty of Canon Law at the University of Navarre.  Here's what it says:  

“Can. 194 §1. …

“2. The Origins of the Canon

“At the beginning of the work of revision, it was decided to transfer the content of c. 188 of the CIC/1979, addressing tacit resignation of office, to the current section.  This decision probably resulted in excessive simplification, since it implied the suppression – at least in the common law – of the category of ‘tacit resignation’ of office, which in our judgment is necessary to recognize in specific cases.  This is because, on the contrary, it would become overly rigorous to declare ‘canonical removal’ – with the resulting damage to the reputation of the person removed – in cases of conduct that, in themselves, only call for the ‘resignation’ of the office.” (Exegetical Commentary On The Code Of Canon Law, Vol 1. by Marzoa, Ángel; Miras, Jorge; Rodríguez-Ocaña, Rafael; Caparros, Ernest; Instituto Martín de Azpilcueta (Montreal: Wilson & Lafleur. 2004) pp. 169-175

The second difference is that, unlike c, 188.4 of the old code, canon 194.2 does require a declaration.  A declaratory sentence is a legal requirement for the loss of office to have any juridical effect.  This too is explicitly stated in the same Navarre commentary that you always refer to as allegedly supporting your position, but for some reason never actually quote.  Here is what it says about the need for a declaration: 

“Can. 194 §1. …


“5. Intervening of ecclesiastical authority for the effective loss of office.

“Consideration of the general requirement for the loss of ecclesiastical office has indicated that the intervention of the authority is always required for the effective cessation of the titleholder (see commentary on c. 184).  The ipso iure appears to contradict this hypothesis, BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

“Effectively, c. 194.2 establishes that, in the cases indicated in numbers 2 [i.e, public defection from the faith] and 3, of 1, in order for the removal to be juridically effective, certain intervention of the competent authority is necessary.  The act of authority, in these cases, is not directly considered to constitute removal.  Rather, it only declares that the situation has in fact been produced that carries the removal ipso iure.  This declaration should be made – for juridical security – through a written document, dated, signed, and certified where possible.  If the intervention is not done in the external forum, the cessation of an office will not be effective.  This is because the appointment of the new titular cannot take place.  Furthermore, the current office holder cannot be kept from carrying out the acts proper to the office and receiving the corresponding remuneration. Therefore, the intervention of the authority is absolutely necessary. (Exegetical Commentary On The Code Of Canon Law, Vol 1. pp. 169-175)

A declaratory sentence is absolutely necessary in the new code, as the commentary above states.  The declaration does not relate to the loss of office as a cause, but as a condition – a necessary condition that the law itself requires for the removal from office to have any juridical effect.  

Here again are the two differences: 

Difference #1: Canon 188.4 (1917 Code) was tacit resignation. Canon 194.2 (1983 Code) is not tacit resignation.

Difference #2: Canon 188.4 (1917 Code) did not require a declaration. Canon 194.2 (1983 Code) does require a declaration for the loss of office to have any juridical effect.

Now, in spite of this, you continue to insist that the two canons are identical. What’s worse is that you use the wording of Canon 188.4 to justify your interpretation of c. 194.2, and the wording in question is precisely what has been changed.   

Here’s one example:

Fr. Kramer: “On this point, the canon is absolutely clear and unequivocal: ‘Can. 194 §1. THE FOLLOWING ARE REMOVED FROM AN ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICE BY THE LAW ITSELF: […] 2° A PERSON WHO HAS PUBLICLY DEFECTED FROM THE CATHOLIC FAITH or from the communion of the church; […]§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.’ (…)

“Since the loss of office takes place ipso jure, it does not depend in any way on the subsequent declaration which merely enforces it; and for this reason, as the quoted canon of the 1917 Code explains, the actual loss of whatsoever office by tacit renunciation takes place ipso facto without any declaration (Ob tacitam renuntiationem ab ipso iure admissam quælibet officia vacant ipso facto et sine ulla declaratione).”

You interpreted c. 194.2 (1983 code) using the tacit resignation (tacitam renuntiationem) and no declaration (sine ulla declaration) verbiage of c. 188.4, which is precisely what has been eliminated/changed in the new code.  

Here is the commentary on canon 194.2 as found in New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, by Beal, Coriden and Green:



Can. 194 §1. The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the law itself:

1/ a person who has lost the clerical state;

2/ a person who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church;

3/ a cleric who has attempted marriage even if only civilly.

§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.

For all three situations competent authority must intervene.  The clerical state is lost by declaration of invalidity of orders, imposition of the penalty of dismissal, or dispensation (c. 290); competent authority must act for each of these.

In the other two situations of canon 194, competent authority declares the removal.  These both involve delicts by the officeholder, and removal has the effect of a penalty.  The canon is an exception to penal law, for removal from office is a permanent expiatory penalty (c. 1336 1, 2) which normally cannot be imposed or declared by decree (c. 1342. 2).  Nevertheless, competent authority must determine the facts of the case and provide the officeholder with an opportunity to be heard (c. 50) before issuing the decree containing the reasons for removal and communicating this to the officeholder (c.51).

Public defection from the Catholic faith is similar to but not precisely the same as apostasy (which is total repudiation of the Christian faith – c. 751); public defection from communion of the Church is similar to but not precisely the same as schism (which is defection from Catholic communion – c. 751). … Neither is it required that the officeholder join another religion, although this could be an objective indication of defection. (…)

In the case of defection or clergy attempting marriage, the declaration by competent authority is similar to the declaration at the end of a term of office or completion of age.  The fact on which the loss of office is based does not depend on the authority’s declaration, but its effectiveness doesThe officeholder remains in office, and actions which require the office are valid, until the declaration of removal is communicated in writing.” Beal, Coriden and Green, Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law).



Paul Kramer: “The canons are not identical, and I never said they were, as you so mendaciously claim.”

Siscoe:  Let me refresh your memory.  “Although Canon 188.4° is no longer in force, its IDENTICAL PROVISION is found in Canon 194 of the 1983 Code.”

And you didn’t merely say they were identical, you treated them as identical when you interpreted Canon 194.2 using the verbiage of Canon 188.4 that no longer applies. 

Fr. Kramer: In your book you and your partner in iniquity, Salza, claim to present Fr. Charles Augustine's commentary on Canon 188.4°, an ADMINISTRATIVE CANON -- but you did no such thing, but rather, you quoted Fr. Augustine's comments on Canon 2314 in the PENAL SECTION OF THE CODE. Canon 2314 prescribes penalties to be meted out according to the penal process it sets forth. It has absolutely nothing to do with Tacit Loss of Office. That the penal process prescribed in Canon 2314 takes place without any suspensive effect on the administrative prescription for loss of office in Canon 188.4° is explicitly set forth in the canon with the words, "firmo præscripto can. 188, n. 4". Canon 188.4° statutes an ipso jure loss of office "without any declaration" (sine ulla declaratione) on the sole basis of the FACT of PUBLIC defection from the Catholic faith, as Fr. Augustine explains.

Siscoe: The quotation from Fr. Augustine was included because it explains the act that the Church considers public defection from the faith.  Canon 2314.3 says those who join a non-catholic sect (sectae acatholicae nomen dare) or publicly adhere to it (publice adhaerere) … tacitly renounce their offce, according to canon 188.4” and the quotation from Fr. Augustine explains what the canon means by joining or publicly adhering to a non-catholic sect.  That's why we included it.  Here it is again:

“A sect means a religious society established in opposition to the Church, whether it consist of infidels, pagans, Jews, Moslems, non-Catholics, or schismatics. To become a member of such a society (nomen dare) means to inscribe one’s name on its roster. (…) The text also provides for cases of informal membership. Publice adhaerere means to belong publicly to a non-Catholic sect. This may be done by frequenting its services without any special cause or reason, or by boasting of being a member, though not enrolled, by wearing a badge or emblem indicative of membership, etc. Those guilty of such conduct, whether laymen or clerics, render themselves infamous (infamia iuris latae sententiae) … A cleric must, besides, be degraded if, after having been duly warned, he persists in being a member of such a society. All the offices he may hold become vacant, ipso facto, without any further declaration. THIS IS TACIT RESIGNATION RECOGNIZED BY LAW (CANON 188.4) AND THEREFORE THE VACANCY IS ONE DE FACTO ET IURE.” (Fr. Augustine)

What did Fr. Augustine say was tacit resignation by law, according to 188.4? What act was he referring to? He was referring to the act specified in canon 2314.3 – namely, formally joining a non-Catholic sect or publicly adhering to it. To which I would concede, “or an act with an equivalent degree of notoriety, but not a lesser degree.” The reason we quoted that is to show that the common Sedevacantist definition a "public heretic" (someone  who says something heretical) is not what the Church means by "public defection from the faith."

Practical Application of Canon 188.4

Fr. Klekotka's commentary on canon 188.4 provides additional insight into its practical application, particularly when the culprit is a bishop, as opposed to just any cleric. He makes three important points:

1) In the case of a bishop an extremely high degree of notoriety is required for the office to fall vacant by virtue of this canon. It requires "public and notorious apostasy."

2) In the case of a bishop, it is normally best for the chapter or the consultors to wait for Rome to depose him before those with the authority to elect his successor do so.

3) Although a declaration is not, per se, necessary for the office to fall vacant, it is always necessary as far as we are concerned.

He writes:

“The last method of a vacancy arising will indeed be rare. We refer to the removal of the Bishop from his office. That a see may become vacant in this fashion the penalty must be very certainly intimated to the bishop. There will therefore be no difficulty in learning when the see becomes vacant in case of deposition. 
“We must note however cases of tacit resignation ipso jure enumerated in canon 188. The provisions of this canon apply to all offices and therefore per se even to bishoprics. The only probable case of such tacit resignation with the bishop would be public apostasy and hence as a crime we treat of it here. It must be noted however that this must be public and certain. Ordinarily the Holy See may be expected to have provided for the case beforehand, if not it may generally be better to denounce the fact to the Holy See and only after the Holy See has deposed him should the chapter or the consultors take over the administration of the see. In rigor of the law however we think the chapter and the consultors could validly proceed to the election of a Vicar-capitular the moment such apostasy becomes notorious. 
“There are a few cases in law of privation ipso facto but scarcely one would be possible in practice. One elected a bishop is obliged by law to receive consecration within six months so that at the end of that period he would lose ipso facto his appointment. It might therefore occur that a bishop would take possession of his see even before his consecration and then omitting to receive consecration in the appointed time, he would fall under the penalty of canon 2398 and lose his office. It is to be noted however that even penalties specified in law as ipso facto incurrenda require a declaratory sentence and therefore as far as concerns us [quoad nos] an authentic decree of the holy see must always intervene.” (Fr. Peter Klekotka, Diocesean Consultors (1920), p 161).

Notice the last words: “As far as concerns us” an authentic decree of the Holy see must intervene.

What this commentary reveals is that the purpose of canon 188.4 was to permit the proper authorities to fill the office of someone who left the Church, without having to wait for a declaration from Rome.   Contrary to what the Sedevacantists have imagined, the canon was not inserted into the code so the laity and clergy with too much time on their hands could use it to judge for themselves which Pope or bishops have lost his office; much less was in included so these same malcontents could appeal to it in an effort to persuade confused Catholics that the Pope and/or every other bishop in the world lost their offices, ipso facto, "without a declaration". 

If you believe the Church would consider it acceptable for the laity and vagus clerics (with no faculties or jurisdiction) to do such things, please provide any authoritative quotation that supports it. If, on the contrary, you agree, as any sane person would, that the Church would never in a million years agree with such an absurd notion, then explain why are you spending so much time defending the Sedevacantist’s (mis)interpretation of their favorite canon (which is no longer on the books) in a useless and unsuccessful attempt to refute an anti-Sedevacantist book?

(More from this recent exchange will be posted over the next few weeks)


6 comments:

SeeGee said...

Wow. WOW! Great article.

“ I will repeat what I wrote previously: no priest or bishop in 2000 years of Catholicism has lost his office, ipso facto, for merely making heretical assertions that will become public, while he remained in peaceful possession of his see. It has never happened a single time in the history of the Church, and it never will.”

If you remove “...that will become public”, does the conclusion still stand? Curious.
Also, please provide either footnotes or a bibliography. Are the translations of the council above public or a private? Without footnotes it’s very difficult to perform the research necessary to confirm the context of the references.

TrueorFalsePope said...

Yes, it still stands. No bishop has ever lost his office for heresy while remaining in peaceful possession of his see.

Bellarmine used this very point to refute the Protestant Brenzius who, like today's Sedevacantists, claimed the "Papist bishops" defected from the faith and lost their office. Bellarmine responds by noting that Catholic bishops in peaceful possession of their see cannot be deprived of it unless they are first legitimately judged. Here's the quote:

“Yet, they object, that Papist bishops have left the true faith, and therefore are no longer bishops; hence pious ministers can rightly take up their places.

“I respond to this argument of Brenz (…): Catholic bishops, who for centuries have possessed their sees in peace, cannot be deprived unless they are legitimately judged and condemned; FOR IN EVERY CONTROVERSY, THE CONDITION OF THE ONE POSSESSING IS BETTER. Moreover, it is certain that the Catholic bishops were not condemned by any legitimate judgment; for who condemned them apart from the Lutherans? But they are accusers, not judges. Who made them our judges? (Bellarmine, On the Marks of the Church, cap. vii).

I will add footnotes or direct links for the quotations used in the article later this afternoon.

MisesMat said...

Anonymous said...

This was fantastic!!! Thank you for posting it. I always suspected the sede vacantists were misapplying canon 188.4 but I never knew how. Now I do.

Anonymous said...

Do you have the definition of a public heretic that you can provide from an approved source?

TrueorFalsePope said...

Definition added.