THE POPE IS ELECTED: YOU DECIDE!

Sedevacantist Watch…

THE POPE IS ELECTED: YOU DECIDE!

A response to Fr. Cekada’s latest damage control video
“The Pope Speaks. You Decide!”

       Fr. Cekada has produced yet another video in response to our book True or False Pope? He calls his latest video “The Pope Speaks. You Decide!,” which is supposed to be a critique of the “Recognize and Resist” (R&R) position. This latest video gives us yet another opportunity to expose his errors and put the Sedevacantist coffin into the grave.
       Obviously, Fr. Cekada was unable to produce the video “The Pope is Elected: You Decide!,” because he cannot deny the doctrine that the man who is elected Pope and peacefully and universally accepted by the Church as such is, in fact, a true Pope (a theological certainty that we address in Chapter 12 of our book). In fact, Fr. Cekada gets himself in trouble in the video when he says: “We hold that Catholics are now in the same situation that existed between the death of one Pope, and the election of another.” Unfortunately for Fr. Cekada, his argument works against him, since we have had “the election of another,” namely, the six successors of Pius XII who have all been elected according to the laws of the Church and accepted by a moral unanimity of Catholics, yet who Cekada rejects by his own private judgment, contrary to the public judgment of the Church.  And Fr. Cekada thinks that his statement “clarifies” the Sedevacantist position?!
       
       Clearly, True or False Pope? is keeping Fr. Cekada
awake at nights, as he plans his next strategic attack and conjures up new ways to spin the narrative. In fact, in his latest video, Fr. Cekada is noticeably disturbed. The smug, arrogant and condescending look we’ve all become so accustomed to has changed to a worried grimace, with clear signs of anger simmering just under the surface (for example, start watching at 16:25).[1] Every now and then he will manage to display his customary arrogant smirk, but he is unable to hold it for more than a few seconds before the angry, snarling grimace returns. Even Fr. Cekada’s customary attempts at humor, which he has craftily employed in the past, are coming up short. It appears that we are witnessing the early stages of Fr. Cekada becoming completely unhinged.

 For years, Fr. Cekada has been allowed to get away with some of the worst arguments advanced in defense of the Sedevacantist thesis, which include half-sentences quoted out of context, deliberate omissions and anachronisms, combined with bullying tactics which he has used quite successfully to lead unsuspecting souls into the demented world of Sedevacantism. Now that Fr. Cekada is finally being publicly called out on his errors, contradictions, and absurd arguments, he is visibly shaken and perturbed. His only defense is his customary ad hominem attacks.  As a priest recently wrote to us via e-mail:

       “Just watched the Fr. Cekada video.  It is terrible.  Ad hominem after ad hominem and really vicious, with that scowl to boot.”


       The main point of Cekada’s video – a point we cover in chapter 20 - is that Catholics cannot recognize a true Pope, while resisting "their teachings, laws and rites,” which is precisely what Fr. Cekada himself does he refuses to obey the liturgical laws promulgated by Pope Pius XII, whom Cekada recognizes as a true Pope. He justifies rejecting the liturgical laws of Pius XII because they are harmful, while at the same time claiming that it is “impossible” for a true Pope to promulgate harmful liturgical laws. 
       So much for consistency in argumentation. Perhaps people will take Fr. Cekada’s arguments more seriously when he himself stops doing precisely what he declares to be forbidden. Better yet, people will take Cekada more seriously when he applies the same principles he uses for Pius XII (he recognizes his papacy but resists his laws) to the conciliar Popes as well.

Fr. Cekada Rejects or Ignores Catholic Teaching
 on Both Resistance and Levels of Assent

       In this latest spectacle, the visibly shaken Fr. Cekada tells his viewers that
Sedevacantists and the Conservative Novus Ordo Catholics have the same doctrine concerning the papacy, in that they both give their unqualified assent and submission to all the teachings and practices of a true Roman Pontiff (except Pius XII’s liturgical legislation)! In Fr. Cekada’s own words:

       “And we encounter what may seem like a curious irony: Conservative Novus Ordo Catholics and Sedevacantists fundamentally adhere to the same traditional Catholic doctrine on the Pope. The Pope possesses the supreme authority on earth to teach rule and sanctity. And when he does, Catholics are obliged to submit to him.”

       Sounds pious, doesn’t it? The problem with Fr. Cekada’s reasoning is that he fails to make the necessary distinctions, which is what has led him right into his Sedevacantist error. 
        There are different levels of assent owed to magisterial teachings. Those proposed in a non-infallible manner are not owed an unqualified assent of faith, as Fr. Cekada evidently imagines, but only a religious assent which is rooted in obedience (not faith). And because obedience is a moral virtue, which is not an absolute, but rather a balance point between excess and defect, the “religious assent” rooted in obedience is itself not absolute, but permits of exceptions. As we will see in a moment, traditional Catholic theology teaches that Catholics can resist erroneous teachings of Popes, and history confirms that faithful Catholics have done just that when “bad Popes” publicly taught errors.
      To demonstrate Fr. Cekada’s error, we will begin by citing the German Jesuit and anti-Modernist, Christian Pesch, who explains that non-infallible teachings of the Roman Pontiff can indeed be resisted if there is sufficient reason to believe the teaching is false. The following is taken from Praelectiones Dogmaticae, which was published in 1898 (that’s six decades before Cekada claims the “primitive myths” were “invented”):

     
 “(…) one must assent to the decrees of the Roman congregations, as long as it does not become positively sure that they have erred. Since the Congregations, per se, do not furnish an absolutely certain argument in favor of a given doctrine, one may or even must investigate the reasons for that doctrine. And thus, either it will come to pass that such a doctrine will be gradually accepted in the whole Church, attaining in this way the condition of infallibility, or it will happen that the error is little by little detected.  For, since the religious assent referred to is not based on a metaphysical certainty, but only a moral and general one, it does not exclude all suspicion of error. For this reason, as soon as there arises sufficient motives for doubt, the assent will be prudently suspended: nevertheless, as long as such motives for doubt do not arise, the authority of the Congregations is sufficient to oblige one to assent. The same principles apply without difficulty to the declarations which the Supreme Pontiff emits without involving his supreme authority, as well as the decisions of the other ecclesiastical superiors who are not infallible.”[2]

Here we see that the religious assent, which is owed to non-infallible teachings, permits of exceptions. 
    
   
Francisco Suarez
Based on this traditional Catholic theology, Suarez explains, in no uncertain terms, that if a Pope gives an order contrary to justice and the common good, he can be resisted.  He wrote:

       “If [the Pope] gives an order contrary to good customs, he should not be obeyed; if he attempts to do something manifestly opposed to justice and the common good, it will be licit to resist him; if he attacks by force, by force he can be repelled, with a moderation appropriate to a just defense.”[3]       


       Juan Cardinal De Torquemada, O.P. (d. 1468), who was selected to represent the King of Castile and his religious order at the Council of Florence, teaches the same traditional doctrine that Fr. Cekada calls “a myth” and “tribal lore” that originated in the 1960s. Torquemada wrote:

       “Although it clearly follows from the circumstances that the Pope can err at times, and command things which must not be done, that we are not to be simply obedient to him in all things, that does not show that he must not be obeyed by all when his commands are good. To know in what cases he is to be obeyed and in what not, it is said in the Acts of the Apostles: ‘One ought to obey God rather than man;’ therefore, were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands, to be passed over (despiciendus).”[4]

       The Cardinal went on to quote Pope Innocent III, who affirmed that a Pope should not be obeyed if he goes against the universal customs of the Church:

       “Thus it is that Pope Innocent states (in De Consuetudine) that it is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not himself go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the church, he ought not to be obeyed…”[5]

       We also have the authority of a papal Bull which explicitly teaches that a Pope who deviates from the Faith can be resisted. The following is taken from the Bull of Paul IV, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio:

       “In assessing Our duty and the situation now prevailing, We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind is so grave and so dangerous [to the Faith] that the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.”[6]

       Thus, licit resistance includes resisting not only a Pope’s “evil commands” (as Fr. Cekada has argued in the past), but also all errors against the Faith, and most especially heresies, which are the greatest deviations from the Faith. Pope Adrian II (d. 872) clearly teaches this principle when he wrote:

       “We read that the Roman Pontiff has always possessed authority to pass judgment on the heads of all the Churches (i.e., the patriarchs and bishops), but nowhere do we read that he has been the subject of judgment by others. It is true that Honorius was posthumously anathematised by the Eastern churches, but it must be borne in mind that he had been accused of heresy, the only offense which renders lawful the resistance of subordinates to their superiors, and their rejection of the latter’s pernicious teachings.”[7]
        So much for Fr. Cekada’s ridiculous claim that the idea of resisting a true Pope is nothing but “tribal lore” that originated in the 1960s.

       Franciscus Diekamp elaborates on the theology behind the traditional R&R position, when he explains, as Pesch did above, that the religious assent owed to the non-infallible acts of the Papal Magisterium permits of exceptions:

       “These non infallible acts of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff do not oblige one to believe, and do not postulate an absolute and definitive subjection. But it behooves one to adhere with a religious and internal assent to such decisions, since they constitute acts of the supreme Magisterium of the Church, and are founded upon solid natural and supernatural reasons. The obligation to adhere to them can only begin to terminate in case, and this only occurs very rarely, [when] a man [who is] fit to judge such a question, after a repeated and very diligent analysis of all the arguments, arrives at the conviction that an error has been introduced into the decision” (Theologiae Dogmaticae Manuale). [8]

       Now, since Fr. Cekada himself agrees that certain teachings of the post-conciliar Popes are clearly erroneous, he surely can’t argue with Traditional Catholics who agree with his own assessment. And since, as we just saw, Catholics are permitted to withhold assent from, and “resist” such erroneous Magisterial teachings (that have not been definitively proposed), Fr. Cekada cannot object when Traditional Catholics do just that.
       And we have the historical example from the days of Pope John XXII of faithful Catholics putting this teaching into practice by “resisting” his erroneous teaching (which the Pope finally renounced on his deathbed). Does Fr. Cekada condemn these fourteenth century Catholics who (according to Cekada’s logic) should have followed John XXII into error by not resisting his false doctrine? Fr. Cekada cannot have it both ways – either the R&R position is true and correct both before and after Vatican II, or it is not true and correct at all, and the stalwart Catholics of the fourteenth century were wrong for resisting the Pope’s public error while recognizing him as a true Pope.
       
Fr. Cekada’s Position is Condemned by the Church

       Fr. Cekada claims that “Unlike R&R, Sedevacantism maintains, intact, all the traditional Catholic doctrine on the office of the papacy, its three-fold authority (to teach, rule and sanctify), and the obligation of each and every Catholic to submit to the Pope” - that is, after you decide if he even is a true Pope in the first place!   He then goes on to say that his position is much better than the R&R position because Sedevacantism “is a one shot deal”: you simply declare the Pope is not the Pope and then don’t have to “resist” anything further; it’s much better, he says, than “banging our gavel every day.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? After all, Sedevacantists advertise simplicity as the most attractive feature of their sect.
       Evidently, those fourteenth century Catholics who “banged their gavel” against John XXII’s errors didn’t fall for Fr. Cekada’s simplicity of the “one shot deal.” And neither did the majority of those lay Catholic faithful of the fourth century, who had to “bang their gavel every day” in the face of the heretical Arian bishops and priests who were trying to corrupt them. To these Catholics and every other Catholic who has had to “bang their gavel” against the errors of past Popes and bishops, Fr. Cekada says “Tsk, tsk.” When the Pope and the bishops speak, Cekada says: “You listen to them” - but only, of course, if you accept them as true Popes and bishops! When it comes to this:  You decide!
       The most obvious problem with Cekada’s position, for any Catholic to see, is that it has been formally condemned by the Roman Catholic Church many centuries ago. Whereas traditional Catholic theology and praxis supports the R&R position, the Church considers the position that Fr. Cekada publicly advocates to be so serious an error, that the Fourth Council of Constantinople attached an automatic excommunication to any laymen who would dare to do what Fr. Cekada advocates – that is, formally separate from their Patriarch (the Pope is the Patriarch of the West) before the Church itself has rendered a judgment. The Council teaches:

       “As divine scripture clearly proclaims, ‘Do not find fault before you investigate, and understand first and then find fault.’ And does our law judge a person without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does? Consequently this holy and universal synod justly and fittingly declares and lays down that no lay person or monk or cleric should separate himself from communion with his own patriarch before a careful inquiry and judgment in synod. (…)  If anyone shall be found defying this holy synod, he is to be debarred from all priestly functions and status if he is a bishop or cleric; if a monk or lay person, he must be excluded from all communion and meetings of the church [i.e. excommunicated] until he is converted by repentance and reconciled” (Canon 10).

       Now, you may be wondering, how can Fr. Cekada possibly justify doing what this Council clearly and unequivocally forbids? And how can he further justify spending his priesthood trying to persuade others to do the same? Here’s how he does it: He says that Pope Benedict XVI (who he claims is an antipope) abandoned the title “Patriarch of the West” in 2006. Therefore, he reasons, since the council forbids Catholics from separating from their “Patriarch,” the teaching no longer applies to the Pope, because the title Patriarch was abandoned by Pope Benedict (again, a Pope that Cekada rejects). You read that correctly. Fr. Cekada actually makes that argument with a straight face[9] and expects people to accept it, as if the teaching of the council applied to the title of the office, rather than to the office to which the title applied.
       Furthermore, Fr. Cekada had already separated from the conciliar Popes before Benedict XVI abandoned the title “Patriarch of the West” ten years ago. So no matter how you slice it, this argument is absurd.

Conclusion


       In closing, it is not the R&R position which has “slowly and completely changed the attitude of countless individual traditionalists toward the papacy and the person of the Pope,” as Fr. Cekada states in his video, but rather the conciliar Popes themselves who have brought this disgrace upon the papacy. Indeed, it is the conciliar Popes themselves who are harming the papacy, and not those who are resisting their errors. And as Cajetan taught, “you must resist, to his face, a pope who is openly tearing the Church apart.”[10]

       “Although it is permissible for anyone to repel force from himself or his neighbor, with a force according to the standard of blameless response, nevertheless, it is not permissible for [just] anyone to punish him for resorting to force. Similarly, although anyone licitly could kill a pope who attacked him, while defending himself [from the attack], nevertheless, no one is permitted to punish a pope for homicide by the death penalty. … you must resist, to his face, a pope who is openly tearing the Church apart, for example, by refusing to confer ecclesiastical benefices except for money, or in exchange for services. (…) a case of simony, even committed by a pope, must be denounced.”[11]

       Bellarmine taught the same traditional doctrine:

       “I respond: firstly … no authority is required to resist an invader and defend oneself … rather authority is required to judge and punish. Therefore, just as it would be lawful to resist a Pontiff invading a body, so it is lawful to resist him invading souls or disturbing a state, and much more if he should endeavor to destroy the Church. I say, it is lawful to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and by blocking him, lest he should carry out his will; still, it is not lawful to judge or punish or even depose him, because he is nothing other than a superior. See Cajetan on this matter, and John de Turrecremata.”[12]

       The Dominican theologian, Sylvester Prieras, O.P. (d. 1523), also taught the same. After asking: “What should be done in cases where the pope destroys the Church by his evil actions?,” he responded:

       “He would certainly sin; he should neither be permitted to act in such fashion, nor should he be obeyed in what was evil; but he should be resisted with a courteous reprehension. Consequently, if he wished to give away the whole treasure of the Church or the patrimony of Saint Peter to his relatives, if he wanted to destroy the Church or the like, he should not be permitted to act in that fashion, but one would be obliged to resist him. The reason for this is that he does not have the power to destroy; therefore, if there is evidence that he is doing it, it is licit to resist him.”[13]

       As we can see, contrary to what Fr. Cekada tells his viewers, it is not only permissible, but necessary and obligatory, to resist an erring Pope who is harming the Church. On the other hand, maintaining that a professing Catholic can judge who is and who is not a valid Pope against the public judgment of the Church is not only “harmful to the papacy,” but to the Catholic Faith itself, not to mention the many souls who have been led out of the ark of salvation by this grievous and pernicious error.
   




[1] http://www.fathercekada.com/2016/01/19/the-pope-speaks-you-decide/.
[2] Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae., vol. I, (Freiburg: Herder & Herder, 1898), pp. 314-315.
[3] Suarez, De Fide, (Paris: Viv├Ęs, 1958), vol. XII, p. 321.
[4] Summa De Ecclesia., pp. 47-48, cited in Newman, John Henry, A Letter addressed to His
Grace, The Duke of Norfolk (London: BM Pickering, 1875), p. 52.
[5] Summa De Ecclesia., cited in Coomaraswamy, The Destruction of the Christian Tradition, p. 110.
[6] Pope Paul IV, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, February 15, 1559 (emphasis added).
[7] Adrian II, alloc, III, lecta in conc. VIII, “et. 7, cited by, Billot, – Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Gregoriana, 1921), vol. I, p. 611; see also: Hefele, Charles-Joseph – LECLERCQ, Dom H. – Histoire des Conciles (Paris: Letouzey, 1912), vol. V, pp. 471-472  (emphasis added).
[8] Diekamp, Theologiae Dogmaticae Manuale, vol. I (Desclee, Parisiis – Tornaci-Romae, 1933), p. 72.
[9] See our feature: “Questioning Fr. Cekada’s Judgment” at www.trueorfalsepope.com
[10] Cajetan, Thomas de Vio – De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, English
Translation in Conciliarism & Papalism, p. 122.
[11] Ibid.
[12] De Romano Pontifice, bk. 2, ch. 29, seventh reply (translation by Ryan Grant).
[13] Dialogus de Potestate Papae, cited by Vitoria, Francisco de – Obras de Francisco de Vitoria
(Madrid: B.A.C., 1960), pp. 486-487.

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