Part I

       After months of avoiding our many theological arguments that refute Sedevacantism, Mario Derksen of finally attempted to post a theological response to our book (although the book is only referred to, not quoted). In his article, which he titled, “The Impossibility of Judging a Pope,” Derksen tries to cajole his followers into believing that, because Vatican I taught that “the First See is judged by no one,” it means a Pope “cannot be deposed.” Near the beginning of his piece, Derksen writes:

       “[I]t is high time we looked at what the Catholic Church teaches on the (im)possibility of judging and removing a valid Pope. In this post, therefore, we will examine two things: (1) What “judging the Pope” really means; and (2) whether a validly reigning Pope can be removed or “deposed.”

      It’s “high time” indeed – for Mario Derksen, that is - to look at what the Catholic Church and her theologians teach about judging a heretical Pope; and, unfortunately for Derksen, it’s not what his Sedevacantist position claims it means. Clearly, Dersken has read the chapters of our book which extensively address the deposition of a Pope (three long and very weighty chapters) and realizes his position has been completely and systematically refuted by the authorities cited in these chapters. So the self-appointed lay apologist for Sedevacantism finds himself in a Catch 22: He either must concede that these authorities we present in our book refute Sedevacantism (which is true), or claim that the teaching of these authorities no longer apply today (which is false).
       Quite predictably, Derksen chose the latter argument, claiming that a valid Pope can never be deposed, notwithstanding the many theological opinions to the contrary. Here’s what he says:

       “[I]f Francis is a true Pope now, then no one can take the pontificate away from him. He cannot be removed from office; he cannot be deposed. You’re simply stuck with him. Welcome to Catholic teaching on the papacy.”

       It is very difficult to believe that Derksen actually wrote this after reading our book. What it shows is that either Derksen did not understand what we presented in plain English, supported by a plenitude of references; or else he is simply being dishonest and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of his audience (those who haven’t read the book). We know of only one theologian (and he wasn’t even cited by Derksen!) out of the many we cite who believed that a heretical Pope cannot be deposed. And none of the quotations from Derksen’s recent article say a Pope cannot be deposed or removed from office for heresy (when “deposition” is properly understood). In fact, the Sedevacantists’ favorite theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine, explicitly refutes the opinion of (that a heretical Pope cannot be deposed). Bellarmine lists this as the “Third Opinion,” in the well-known “Five Opinions” that he discusses in De Romano Pontifice. And this fact gives us yet another opportunity to publicly reveal the dishonesty of Mario Dersken of

Dishonest Derksen Deletes Bellarmine’s “Third Opinion”
From His Website, which says a Pope Can Be Deposed!

       For years, Derksen (and many other Sedevacantists) have prominently displayed on their websites English translations of the Fourth and Fifth opinions from Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice, which address how a Pope would lose his office for heresy (Cajetan’s Fourth Opinion requires the Church to be involved in the deposition itself – that is, in the severing of the bond uniting the man to the office (by a ministerial act) - after she has established the crime of heresy, while Bellarmine’s Fifth opinion requires only the Church’s judgment of the crime, after which the Pope loses his office ipso facto). And for these same years, Sedevacantists have been claiming, to their own embarrassment (now that our book is out), that Bellarmine’s opinion really means that any individual Catholic can judge whether the Pope is a manifest heretic, and then declare him to be a false Pope, even if their private judgment is contrary to the public judgment of the Church. They then claim that Bellarmine’s opinion (which they misunderstood) must prevail over that of Cajetan and everyone else. (We prove this opinion is erroneous throughout our book.)
       Setting aside the fact that Derksen and his colleagues have completely misunderstood Bellarmine’s Fifth Opinion, it’s interesting to note that Derksen and his friends, to our knowledge, never quoted from the Third Opinion, (at least not before we cited it in our book and articles), in which Bellarmine acknowledges that a Pope can be judged by the Church in the case of heresy. Was this because Derksen & Company did not have the English translation of the Third Opinion? Or because Derksen didn’t like that the Third Opinion says a Pope can be judged by the Church – which directly contradicts his position? Take a guess?
       Derksen’s recent, dishonest actions provide the answer to the question. When Derksen finally obtained the full translation of Bellarmine’s Five Opinions (which was recently translated and made available by Ryan Grant), and posted it on, he deleted the Third Opinion almost entirely, and only included in full the Fourth and Fifth Opinions (which had been available online for years)! You read that correctly. He also deleted the Second Opinion, which exposes more Sedevacantist errors.  See for yourself, by examining the screen shot from the website below.[1] 

Notice the ellipses (three dots) followed by the sentence beginning with “it would be the most miserable condition.” This is the last sentence of the Third Opinion (showing that Derksen has the translation of it). He also removed the Second Opinion, which had also never been translated and posted on Sedevacantist websites.  So why did Mad Mario remove the Second and Third Opinions? Because in these two opinions, Bellarmine explicitly states that “a heretical Pope can be judged,” and that a Pope who falls into heresy is not immediately deposed by God, but he is only deposed by God “through men” (i.e., after men judge him). Thus, Dishonest Derksen removed this “scoop” from his website, because the scoop is absolutely devastating to his position, and, in fact, completely contradicts what he claims. This purposeful deletion of the Second and Third Opinion from the new translation should tell you all you need to know about the integrity of Mario Derksen and the trustworthiness of his website, “”[2] We will address the content of the Second and Third opinion in detail in Part II.
       Now, because we have quoted and expounded on these “deleted” opinions in our book (and our recent articles), Mad Mario was finally forced to address to the Third Opinion in his latest article (he had no choice); but, as you would expect, he completely twisted the plain words of Bellarmine, claiming that they mean the exact opposite of what the saint and Doctor actually said (since Derksen can no longer hide the Third Opinion from his audience, he has been forced to mutilate its meaning, or else wave the white flag in defeat). Whereas Bellarmine said “a heretical Pope can be judged,” Derksen claims that Bellarmine really meant that a Pope cannot be judged, and that Bellarmine didn’t really mean what he said. Dishonest Derksen then attempted to marshal Cardinal Billot to support his “interpretation” (Derksen has still not addressed what Bellarmine wrote about the Second Opinion). And, interestingly, not only did Derksen take Billot completely out of context to support his “interpretation” of Bellarmine, but he even admitted to doing so.
      We will discuss the out of context quote from Billot in Part II. In Part III, we will comment at length on a another long quotation that Derksen provided from Billot, which he thinks contradicts what is taught by the many theologians we cite in our book (remember, the real purpose of Dishonest Derksen’s article is to claim that the teaching of the authorities we cite can no longer be held).  We will show that Derksen has completely misunderstood Billot, and prove that what Billot wrote in no way contradicts what we ourselves argued in True or False Pope? concerning the deposition of a heretical Pope.  What will become quite clear to everyone is that Derksen does not understand what we presented in our book, or what Billot himself taught. Mario is in way over his head with this debate, and his lack of knowledge is as stark as his dishonesty.

Dishonest Derksen Implicitly Admits Our Authorities Refute His Position –
But Claims Their Teaching Can No Longer Be Held After Vatican I!

      In our book, True or False Pope?, we spend a great deal of time, over three lengthy chapters, quoting theologian after theologian, who explain how a heretical Pope can be deposed, without the Church having to claim jurisdiction over him, and without violating the maxim “the First See is judged by no one.” These three chapters alone completely decimate the Sedevacantist position, because they clearly show that in order for a Pope to lose his office for heresy, the Church itself must first establish that he has fallen into heresy (question of fact), before God will authoritatively depose him. In other words, the ipso facto loss of office, which is defended by Bellarmine and others, follows the Church’s judgment of the crime. Derksen no doubt realizes that these authorities completely refute his position.
       So how does Mad Mario seek to get around this material, that the Church can and indeed must judge a Pope before he loses his office? Does he twist and manipulate words, as he did in his recent article concerning what Bellarmine wrote in the Third Opinion? No, the teaching of these theologians is far too clear to permit that. Does he do a half-sentence hatchet job on the applicable quotations, like his mentor Fr. Cekada is fond of doing when deceiving his audience? No; he figures if that didn’t work for Anthony, it won’t work for Mario either. Does he claim we “invented” the quotations (a tactic John Lane has shamelessly employed in the past)? No, the quotations are all authentic and he knows it. How, then, does Mario seek to get around all of these quotations – one after another, after another - from some of the most respected theologians in the history of the Church, which destroy his position?
       As we mentioned above, his tactic is to simply make the blanket claim that what all of these theologians and canonists taught can no longer be held after Vatican I. He makes this assertion without providing a shred of proof.  And he can’t provide proof, because their teaching regarding the loss of office for a heretical Pope does not contradict the teaching of Vatican I, which says “the First See is judged by no one” (which is the teaching Derksen is referring to), nor do these theologians contradict any other teaching of the Council (which is why Derksen does not mention any other teaching of Vatican I in his article). Let us begin by reading Derksen’s argument in his own words:

       “Before we proceed to various quotes proving our position with respect to how the Church understands her teaching that a Pope cannot be judged, we must emphasize that all the evidence we adduce is deliberately chosen only from the time of 1870 onwards — that is, from the time of the First Vatican Council, which settled a lot of Catholic doctrine regarding the papacy and made it untenable to hold a number of theories that had still been permissible to hold up until that time. In this we distinguish ourselves from the recognize-and-resist proponents, specifically Messrs. Salza and Siscoe, who in large part advance ideas that were abandoned after Vatican I because they could no longer be held in light of the council’s teachings — which is why nearly all of the prooftexts they use come from theologians and canonists who wrote before the First Vatican Council, such as Cardinal Thomas Cajetan, Fr. Francisco Suarez, John of St. Thomas, Fr. Paul Laymann, and others. Yet, if these theories were still acceptable after Vatican I, how come Salza and Siscoe never cite any theologians or canonists from the twentieth century on these points?”

       Frankly, it’s difficult to believe that even Mario Derksen would make such an unfounded argument, after reading our chapters on judging and deposing a Pope. First, we cited numerous authorities from after the First Vatican Council. Why wouldn’t Derksen actually do an analysis of pre versus post Vatican I quotations, if he thought this distinction was so important? (It’s not.) In fact, we would estimate that 1/3 of the 1450+ footnotes in our book are to authorities from after Vatican I (1870) and before Vatican II (1962). Nevertheless, the distinction is completely irrelevant, since Vatican I changed nothing in regard to the theology concerning the deposition of a heretical Pope. This is another Sedevacantist red herring, fabricated to fool the already fooled sheep of the NovusOrdoWatch pasture.
       Second, as noted above, the teaching from Vatican I that Derksen is referring to (“the First See is judged by no one”), in no way contradicts what the above-mentioned theologians teach. Derksen pretends he is doing some actual scholarship by dedicating almost half of the article (4 out of 10 pages) to explaining what this teaching means, yet he never once demonstrates how this teaching contradicts what the theologians we cited taught about how a Pope is deposed. Not once. He simply claims that their teaching is contrary to Vatican I and hopes his readers will buy it. How can we refute Derksen’s claim and his “interpretation” of the teaching of Vatican I vis-a-vis the pre-Vatican I authorities we cite?  Very easily.

Dishonest Derksen Implies the Maxim “The First See
Is Judged By No One” Originated With Vatican I!

       Contrary to what Derksen would have his readers believe, the maxim in question (“the First See is judged by no one”) did not originate with Vatican I, but goes back to the earliest years of the Church, as we will see in a moment. Moreover, to Dersken’s further embarrassment, the pre-Vatican I authorities we cite themselves refer to this teaching in their explanation on how a heretical Pope is deposed. Their very detailed explanations acknowledge and carefully avoid violating this maxim. This explains why Derksen didn’t attempt to show how their teachings violated the famous maxim. He just asserted that they did and moved on.
       This claim of Derksen (that Vatican I came up with the famous maxim), is a common error amongst Sedevacantists, which they have unwittingly used for years to escape from the many theologians who clearly teach that  a heretical Pope must be judged by the Church, before losing his office. For example, the Sedevacantist apologist, John Lane, used this tactic in order to discredit the teaching of Suarez, when he wrote:

       “Francisco Suarez did in fact hold the discredited minority position that a public heretic would have to be deposed by the Church. But since his time the [First] Vatican Council has decreed that the First See is judged by no one.”[3]

       Since his time? Lane doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. The teaching reiterated by Vatican I goes back to the earliest years of the Church! It was quoted as a commonly held doctrine by the bishops in the early fifth century when they gathered to consider the crime of Pope Marcellinus, who offered incense to the idols on the altar of Jupiter. When the Pope appeared at the council to answer for the sin against the First Commandment (not for heresy), the bishops said to him: “Judge yourself. The first see is not judged by anyone.”[4]  And Pope Marcellinus did just that and resigned (before being re-elected by the bishops after repenting of his sin).
       The phrase is also found in the Synod of Parma (501-502 A.D.), convened by Theodoret to consider the charges again Pope Symmachus (who was not accused of heresy, but of other crimes, which is a point we will discuss later).The famous axiom was further used by Pope St. Nicholas in Proposueramus Quidem (685 A.D.),[5] by Pope St. Leo IX in the Epistle In Terra Pax Hominibus (1053 A.D.)[6] and by Pope St. Gregory VII, in Dictatus Papae, (1075 A.D.).[7] Yet John Lane (and Dersken as well) claims that Suarez’s teaching can no longer be held because “since his time” Vatican I taught that “the First See is judged by no one.” This shows they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
       In fact, Suarez himself used the phrase in the very treatise in which he discusses how a heretical Pope is deposed. He wrote:

       “Moreover, the Council gathered on this matter in the time of Pope Marcellus [i.e., Marcellinus], when it declared ‘The First see is judged by no one,’ it said that concerning the very person of Marcellus, who was certainly a private person…”[8]

       Yet, after acknowledging that the person of the Pope cannot be judged by the Church for sins against the First Commandment (again, not heresy), Suarez wrote the following in the very next paragraph:

       “Therefore, others affirm the Church is superior to the Pope in the case of heresy, but this is difficult to say. For Christ the Lord constituted the Pope as supreme judge absolutely; even the canons indifferently and generally affirm this; and at length [teach that] the Church does not validly exercise any act of jurisdiction against the Pope, nor is the power conferred to it by election, rather [the Church] merely designates a person upon whom Christ confers the power by himself. Therefore on deposing a heretical Pope, the Church would not act as superior to him, but juridically and by the consent of Christ she would declare him a heretic and therefore unworthy of Pontifical honors; he would then ipso facto and immediately be deposed by Christ…”.

       Notice that Suarez carefully navigates the famous axiom by saying that the Church does not act superior to the Pope, but only declares him a heretic and unworthy of the papacy (this is the common opinion of the theologians who addressed the question of a heretical Pope). According to Suarez’s opinion, the Pope is then deposed by Christ, not by the Church.[9] Commenting on Suarez’s opinion, Lane wrote:

       “Suarez’s idea that the Church could … ‘declare him a heretic’ is completely indefensible. After all, what else is a ‘juridical determination’ but a public judgment?”

       John Lane is completely out to sea on this issue. A declaratory sentence is not a juridical determination which has coercive power over the Pope (like a condemnatory sentence would have). And, as will see later, the Church does indeed have the authority to judge papal heresy (the matter of heresy), and also the authority to establish and declare that the Pope is guilty of the crime of papal heresy (which includes the form of heresy, or pertinacity), which merely shows that the Pope is already judged - without, however, exercising jurisdiction over the Pope.
       Now, as we saw, Suarez believes that a Pope is immediately deposed by Christ Himself (after the Church judges the crime), and is not deposed in any way by the Church. A few others have taught that the Church does indeed depose the Pope – that is, exercises jurisdiction over the Pope by authoritatively removing him from office. In our book, we mention some of these theologians by name (e.g., Azorius). We specifically say they were wrong and never directly quote them. To be clear (as we are in our book), we explicitly reject this position, which is the heresy of Conciliarism, and note that it is not the position of the theologians we cite in the book (such as Cajetan and John of St. Thomas) who say that the Church does play a part in the deposition, but not by authoritatively deposing the Pope.
       But what the teaching of Suarez shows is that he was well aware of the famous maxim, later repeated (not invented) by Vatican I, and did not believe his position violated it; neither did any of the other theologians we quote – all of whom also cited the famous maxim. What this also shows is that the Sedevacantists’ interpretation of the maxim, as applied to the case of a heretical Pope, is not in accord with the clear and consistent teachings of the Church’s greatest theologians and canonists.
       These facts show how erroneous, nay, embarrassing, it is for Derksen to accuse the authors of True or False Pope? of  spilling “their ink advancing positions by Cajetan, Suarez, and John of St. Thomas, who wrote well over 200 years before the First Vatican Council, the teachings of which rendered their theories on deposing a Pope untenable, as we already said.
       “Said,” yes; “demonstrated,” no. The reality is quite the contrary. Thus, Derksen must either be completely ignorant or completely dishonest to make the outrageous assertion that Vatican I “rendered untenable” the theories of Cajetan, Suarez, Fr. Paul Laymann and John of St. Thomas (and which would also include Bellarmine, who held the same opinion as Suarez on the deposition of a heretical Pope). These theologians all acknowledged the centuries-old maxim that “the First See is judged by no one,” in their explanation of how a heretical Pope is deposed for the crime of heresy.

Can the Church Judge a Pope For Heresy?
Canon Law vs. Mario Derksen

       Above, we briefly saw how Suarez navigated the famous axiom with respect to the deposition itself, by explaining that the Church merely declared the crime of heresy, while Christ Himself – the Pope’s superior - deposes him. But a separate question arises, namely, how can the Church establish that the Pope is a heretic, without inappropriately judging him? After all, determining that a Pope is a heretic requires a judgment.
       Here we arrive at the “exception” to the general rule. While the Church cannot technically depose a Pope, by authoritatively causing the loss of office (as it can with lesser clerics), the Church can judge papal heresy.
       That a Pope can be judged by the Church in the case of heresy (as Bellarmine himself teaches in the Third Opinion) was taught by Pope Innocent III and by the famous canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, which was included as part of canon law for about eight centuries, and which is almost always cited by the theologians in their treatise on how a heretical Pope is deposed. The famous canon comes from the twelfth century Decretum of Gratian (1150) and was on the books during and after Vatican I.[10]  We provide the canon below; note also that immediately after it states the general rule that the Pope is “judged by no one” (just as Vatican I taught), it then provides the exception to the rule :

       “Let no mortal man presume to accuse the Pope of fault, for, it being incumbent upon him to judge all, he should be judged by no one, unless he is suddenly caught deviating from the faith.”[11]

       This canon clearly teaches that heresy is the exception to the general rule, and this is how it has always been interpreted by the Church’s approved theologians. For example, John of St. Thomas wrote:

       “There is an agreement among the Doctors on the fact that the Pope may be deposed in case of heresy. A specific text is found in the Decree of Gratian, Distinction 40, chapter ‘Si Papa,’ where it is said: ‘On earth, no mortal should presume to reproach the Pontiff for any fault, because he who has to judge others, should not be judged by anyone, unless he is found deviating from the Faith’ (Pars I, D 40, c. 6). This exception obviously means that in case of heresy, a judgment could be made about the Pope. The same thing is confirmed by the letter of Pope Hadrian, reported in the Eighth General Council...”[12]

       Pope Innocent III [d. 1216), who Fr. Cekada said was “one of the greatest canonists of his time,”[13] teaches precisely what we find in Si Papa: that in the case of heresy, the Church can judge a Pope:

       “For me the faith is so necessary that, whereas for other sins my only judge is God [i.e. first see is judged by no one], for the slightest sin committed in the matter of the faith I could be judged by the Church.”[14]

Fr. Anthony Cekada
       Here Pope Innocent was simply repeating what had already been a well established principle in canon law, as found in Si Papa (part of which Vatican I would later repeat).
       Now, in case Mario Derksen posits the completely arbitrary and nonsensical objection that this teaching of Pope Innocent III and John of St. Thomas came before Vatican I, we will cite another author who wrote after Vatican I, yet who also explicitly mentions this exception. And we can be sure that Derksen will accept what this particular writer says. How can we be so sure? Because the author is none other than Mario Derksen’s mentor, Fr. Anthony Cekada!
       You read that correctly. You see, dear reader, when Sedevacantists, such as Fr. Cekada, believe that a certain teaching helps the Sedevacantist thesis, they will cite it. Yet, when the same teaching undermines their position, they will ignore it, delete it (from their websites), mutilate its meaning, claim it’s inauthentic, claim that it no longer applies after a certain point in time, etc. In fact, some Sedevacantists are so hell-bent on proving that the Pope is not the Pope, that they will even praise an article when the author asserts what they know to be false, provided that their endorsement can serve their current purpose. Sedevacantists might be divided amongst themselves over many doctrinal (and liturgical) matters, but when it comes to an argument in support of the claim that the Papal See is vacant, they will almost never show disagreement – even if they know the argument is false. The following proves our claim.

Fr. Cekada vs. Mario Derksen

       Immediately after Derksen posted his most recent article which claims that a Pope cannot be judged, and therefore cannot be deposed, Fr. Cekada publicly praised the article on his Twitter account, even saying that Derksen’s article “does dyn-o-mite demolition of True or False Pope?” Here is the actual screen shot from Fr. Cekada’s Twitter account, which Cekada sent to all of his followers to promote his disciple’s article:

Again, notice that Fr. Cekada refers to Derksen’s article as a “dyn-o-mite demolition” of our book. When we saw this enthusiastic endorsement of the article, we burst out laughing (really, we did). Why? Because Cekada has already publicly disagreed with Derksen’s claim that a Pope cannot be judged for heresy. That’s right! Before we quote Cekada directly, we bring your attention to Derksen’s criticism of us in the article.  He wrote: “Salza and Siscoe claim that [papal heresy is] an ‘exception’ to the principle that the First See can be judged by no one (pp. 300-303).” In other words, Derksen says a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy, but Salza and Siscoe, and, yes … Fr. Cekada! say a heretical Pope can be judged! And that means Fr. Cekada flatly disagrees with Mario Derksen, even though Cekada praises the very article that Derksen authored which contradicts what Cekada knows to be true! This shows just how hell-bent Cekada is to discredit our book. Like Father, like son. If you’ve followed this debate, then you’ve heard this before, but we will say it again here: Welcome to the whacky world of Sedevacantism!
       As we will see in a moment, Fr. Cekada concedes that heresy is an exception to the maxim, “The First See is judged by no one.” He points out that the maxim is merely a procedural norm which exempts the Pope from coercive juridical power (e.g., summonses, appeals from his decisions, etc.). The following is taken from Fr. Cekada’s article in response to an article written by Christopher Ferrara. The first part in italics is what Ferrara wrote in his piece:

“5. FIRST SEE JUDGED BY NO ONE: “Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur — no one may judge the First See… That no one may judge the Pope — that is, his personal sin of heresy as opposed to the heretical import of his words — is a fundamental truth of our religion…” (p.13.)

       Here comes Fr. Cekada’s attempt to refute what Ferrara said. Cekada is going to provide (A) the context of the maxim, (B) a canonical source for it (from way before Vatican I; in fact, from before St. Thomas Aquinas!), and (C) two papal quotes to support his position. (Pop Quiz: Before reading, see if you can guess what the canonical source is, and what Pope Fr. Cekada cites as the authority for his position.) Commenting on the above quotation from Ferrara, Cekada wrote:

 “(A) Context: Any first-year canon law student knows that it says no such thing. The maxim “the First See is judged by no one” is incorporated into the Code of Canon Law as canon 1556. The canon appears in Book IV (Ecclesiastical Trials), Part I (Trials), Section 1 (Trials in General), Title 1 (The Competent Forum), which prescribes which ecclesiastical courts have jurisdiction to try which types of cases.

While it is true that the pope has the final say on doctrinal and disciplinary matters in the Church … the maxim itself merely means that there is no ecclesiastical tribunal before which one could summon the pope or to which one could appeal the pope’s final judicial decision.

Here is an explanation from a standard canon law manual:

‘Immunity of the Roman Pontiff. ‘The First See is judged by no one.’ (Canon 1556). This concerns the Apostolic See or the Roman Pontiff who by the divine law itself enjoys full and absolute immunity.” (Cappello, Summa Juris Canonici 3:19.) The judicial immunity of the pope was disputed in church history by partisans of Gallicanism and Conciliarism, who also maintained that a pope’s decisions could be appealed to a general council.’

The maxim ‘the First See is judged by no one’ is a procedural norm, then.

(B) Sources: One of the canonical sources for the maxim, the Decree of Gratian (ca. 1150) [i.e., Si Papa], reads as follows:

‘Whose sins [the pope’s] no mortal man presumes to rebuke, for he shall judge all and is to be judged by no one, unless he is suddenly caught deviating from the faith [nisi deprehendatur a fide devius].” (Decree, I, dist. 60 (sic), ch. 6.)”

       If anything, one can conclude from this the very opposite of what Mr. Ferrara maintains: defection from the faith is the one sin of a pope we are permitted to judge.

“(C) Papal Teaching: In two of his coronation sermons, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) — considered one of the greatest canonists of his time — explained how a pope who falls into the sin of heresy is “judged.”

Without faith it is impossible to please God.… To this end faith is so necessary for me that, though I have for other sins God alone as my judge, it is alone for a sin committed against faith that I may be judged by the Church. [propter solum peccatum quod in fide commititur possem ab Ecclesia judicari.] For ‘he who does not believe is already judged’.”(Sermo 2: In Consecratione, PL 218:656)

‘You are the salt of the earth… Still less can the Roman Pontiff boast, for he can be judged by men — or rather he can be shown to be judged, if he manifestly ‘loses his savor’ in heresy. [quia potest ab hominibus judicari, vel potius judicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescit in haeresim.] For he who does not believe is already judged.” (Sermo 4: In Consecratione, PL 218:670)

“A pope who commits the sin of heresy, then, can indeed be “shown to be judged.”[15]

       Now, if we didn’t know any better, we might have guessed that Derksen’s mentor, Fr. Cekada, got the foregoing explanation straight out of our book, since that is pretty darn close to how we explained it, although we use a little more nuance and provide a more thorough explanation (we further demonstrate how a Pope is “shown to be judged”). Again, welcome to the whacky world of Sedevacantism.

       As we have seen, Vatican I repeated (not invented) the famous maxim that “the First See is judged by no one,” and its affirmation of this ancient maxim obviously does not nullify the centuries old teaching that heresy is the exception to the rule. The maxim and the exception have always co-existed, and the exception was even made a part of canon law from at least the twelfth century (if not earlier), right up to the twentieth century (before, during and after Vatican I). It has also been quoted by Popes, councils and theologians going back to the earliest centuries of the Church. The theologians we cited in our book were all well aware of the famous maxim, and they were all careful to avoid violating it when they explained how the Church can oversee the deposition of a heretical Pope. Their teaching was explained in great detail in our book, as Derksen well knows. In fact, we even proved (on one of the pages that Derksen referenced in his article!) that this famous maxim did not originate with Vatican I, but went back to the first centuries of the Church. So Derksen was clearly not ignorant of this point, but was trying to fool those who have not read our book. He has been proven to be dishonest, once again.
       In Part II, we will address the Second and Third Opinions of Bellarmine.  We will also comment on a quotation from Billot, which Derksen cites in an attempt to show that Bellarmine did not mean what he said when he taught that a heretical Pope can be judged.  We will show that Derksen has completely taken this quote out of context (which he actually admits) and that it in no way suggests what he claims.  

[2] In case you are wondering, the First Opinion does not pertain to the deposition of a heretical Pope, but only discusses whether a Pope can become a heretic.
[3] “Anti-Sedevacantism: Is it Catholic?,”
[4] Cajetan, De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, p. 101.
[5] The first Seat will not be judged by anyone” (Proposueramus quidem, 865 A.D., Denz., 330).
[6] Denz., 352.
[7] Pope Gregory VII, Dictatus Papae, No. 19, (1075, A.D.).
[8] Saurez, De Fide, Disputatio X, sect. 6, n. 9.
[9] In our book, we refer to this as the “Jesuit” opinion of Suarez and Bellarmine, which is slightly different than the “Dominican” opinion of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, who said the Church also deposes the Pope.
[10] The Decretum Gratiani, also known as the Concordia discordantium canonum or Concordantia discordantium canonum, is a collection of canon law compiled and written in the twelfth century as a legal textbook by the jurist known as Gratian. It forms the first part of the collection of six legal texts, which together became known as the Corpus Juris Canonici. It was used by canonists of the Roman Catholic Church until Pentecost (May 19) 1918, when a revised Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) promulgated by Pope Benedict XV on 27 May 1917 obtained legal force.[1]
[11] Latin found in Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1964), p. 124.
[12] Cursus Theologici II-II De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis, Disp. II, Art. III, De Depositione Papae, p. 133 (emphasis added).
[14] Serm. Consecrat. Pontif. Rom., P. L. CCXVII, col. 656.


Stephen Mocko said...

where can I read an english translation of all of bellermines opinions? I want to read it myself. Not take anyones opinion on it.

TrueorFalsePope said...

We quote the First, Second and Third Opinion (along with our comments) in Part II, which should be posted later today. We will also include them in their entirety in a footnote so they can be read without any comments interspersed.