Sedevacantist Watch…

Strike 3: John Salza on the Errors of John Lane

The following is taken from email correspondence that Sedevacantist apologist John Lane initiated with John Salza, which was part of a greater email campaign against Salza and Siscoe, in which Lane also chose to copy a number of SSPX priests and make his attacks upon us semi-public. Note also that Lane is now publicly advancing these same lies and arguments on internet forums, using a pseudonym.  Thus, Lane deserves to be publicly denounced, once again.

J. Salza: John, please read my responses carefully and prayerfully. You have falsely accused Robert and me of holding theological positions we do not hold (which is incomprehensible if you actually read the book), and also that you have completely misunderstood Bellarmine’s teaching on a heretical Pope, and every other theologian who has addressed the same, due to your false paradigms, all proven below. You have also falsely accused us of omitting a quotation from our book that we actually included in the book – another incredible accusation from someone who read the book. God knows whether this is ignorance or malice. But we find it difficult to believe that you could have erred the way you have, if you actually read our book, and given that you claim to have studied these issues for 25 years.

My hope with this email is two-fold: First, that you have the grace and humility to see and correct your errors. Second, that the targets of your smear campaign will recognize it for what it is. You are a Sedevacantist who wants to discredit at all costs the one book that has exposed your errors for all to see. Unfortunately, it appears that you are willing to employ any tactic to do so, even if it means back-channeling a deceitful campaign about us and our book, because you cannot refute it on its merits. But we have come to expect this type of behavior from public Sedevacantist apologists like you. 

Now on to your latest arguments.   

J. Lane: You appear to be asserting that Bellarmine had in mind a formal process for judging the heretic, pending which the putative heretic remains pope.  

Your position is that a heretic pope is pope until he is warned juridically, and then if he fails to amend, he is automatically deposed.  

J. Salza: Wrong. The Pope cannot be warned juridically. The Pope can only be warned as an act of fraternal correction, in charity. This is precisely what we say in our book. Read it.  

J. Lane: Please correct me if I am mistaken, because I do not want to do to you what you insist on doing to me, which is that you repeatedly claim that you know best what my position really is, and that I am lying when I deny it.

J. Salza: I have corrected you above. It’s telling, however, how you didn’t wait for my reply to your invitation to clarify my position. You simply went on to assume you presented it accurately, by referring to my “position,” even though you also asked to be corrected. So I assume that is because you really didn’t desire to be corrected. As you will see, you have erected a straw man, and frankly it’s difficult to believe that you could be this ignorant about our position, which we clearly lay out in our book.

J. Lane: Let's see if your position is really that of Bellarmine, as you claim.  There are two main points of doctrine to be determined, and there are dogmatic principles to be maintained in determining those questions, according to Bellarmine.  

J. Salza: Yes, let’s do that. And what we will discover in doing so is that you don’t understand Bellarmine, nor do you understand the positions of Suarez, Cajetan or John of St. Thomas either. And further, you do not even understand our position. You claim that we believe a juridical process that coerces the Pope precedes the Pope’s loss of office. This is not true, and goes to show how off base you really are, and that the foundation of your rebuttal is completely specious.

J. Lane: The first question is whether a “heretic pope” has to be tolerated and left to the judgement of God, or whether the Church can do something about the problem.  

J. Salza: You have to define what you mean by “heretic Pope.” If you had formal legal training, you would be much more precise in your argumentation. You hint that you are going to define it below, but you don’t. Nevertheless, let’s work through this.  

J. Lane: Bouix's answer is that there's nothing to be done except to pray.  Bellarmine's answer is that the constant tradition of the Church is that a “heretic pope” can be judged.

J. Salza: Correct, if you mean that the “heretical Pope” is judged while Pope, as we will see below.

J. Lane: The second question is to whether a manifest heretic remains pope until judged.  Here we are confronted with a divergence between different definitions of the compound noun, “heretic pope.”  What does Bellarmine mean by it? 

In answering this Bellarmine (and Cajetan, and everybody except Conciliarists and Gallicans) highlights that the saw (sic), "The First See is judged by no-one" must be maintained, for it is a principle of divine revelation (and since 1870, a dogma – see Billot).  Cajetan essentially starts with the definition of “heretic pope” as equivalent to “pope” and he says that the heretic pope isn't being judged, but only the link between the man and the office is being severed by the Church's judgement.  

J. Salza: Wrong. This shows how unread you really are on these issues. Cajetan and Bellarmine both say a heretical Pope can be judged (as an exception to the rule), and they both cite the canon Si Papa as an authority for their position. Read our explanation of Cajetan’s position in our book, which was further amplified and clarified by John of St. Thomas, if you want to learn his actual position.

And Bellarmine explicitly says the “inferior” (the Church) judges the “superior” (the Pope), which proves that Bellarmine meant that the Church judges him while he is still Pope. It is obvious why you won’t engage Bellarmine’s teaching. You believe that the Church judges the “heretic Pope” only AFTER he has fallen from office. But in that case, the Pope would not be “superior” to his “inferiors.” It follows that your interpretation, which doesn’t even engage Bellarmine’s teaching, is incorrect. That’s why you avoid Bellarmine’s teaching. And that’s why Sedevacantists have avoided publishing Bellarmine’s refutation of the Third Opinion. It’s no wonder why. I will help you understand what Bellarmine actually meant, so you no longer have to avoid the quotation.

The only thing you got right here is that Cajetan says the “heretic Pope” is the “Pope,” not a false Pope, which is the same thing that Bellarmine says when he says the inferior judges the superior. Contrary to your own views, Bellarmine and Cajetan are in complete agreement in holding that the Church can render a judgment concerning a heretical Pope. John of St. Thomas clarifies that is an “indirect judgment” of the Pope, since the Church has no authority over a Pope.

J. Lane: John of St. Thomas tries to make this position compatible with the dogma that nobody can judge the pope, but does not appear to have been successful, as his explanation is not commonly repeated even by later Dominicans.  Garrigou, for example, refers to Cajetan, not to John of St. Thomas.  Let me know if you can find a few Dominican theologians who quote John of St. Thomas instead of Cajetan. 

J. Salza: Wrong. JST was defending Cajetan’s position! Cajetan and John of St. Thomas held the same position, just like Cardinal Journet said. One of the key errors of Sedevacantists like you is that they don’t understand Cajetan’s position, and thus they don’t understand Bellarmine’s objections to Cajetan’s position (which JST completely refutes in his treatise). 

J. Lane: (The fact that the Dominicans and the Jesuits formed different and divergent schools is yet another thing that you got from me, by the way.  I didn’t find it in a book, I noticed it by comparing different books, so I know it’s original, and that you learned it from me.  This is an example, many times observed, of your learning from us.  If we’re so dishonest, you should really be nervous.)  

J. Salza: Wrong. What presumption! I never knew you claimed to have discerned a distinction between the Jesuits and the Dominicans. How could I possibly know that when you have erroneously pitted Suarez against Bellarmine, claiming they held different opinions, when in fact they held the same position!? And you do the same with Cajetan and JST, even in this email! You could not have possibly made such a distinction because you don’t understand Bellarmine and Suarez’s position, and you don’t understand Cajetan and JST’s position. So if you did come up with some distinction as you claim, it is certainly wrong, and certainly differs from our distinction, which is the correct one, and one we have not seen any modern writer make.

Robert and I came up with the Dominican and Jesuit distinctions on our own. We never learned that distinction from anyone else. To my knowledge, I was the first person to publicly point out that the “differences” between Bellarmine and Suarez were only apparent but not actual (in my article on Archbishop Lefebvre and Sedevacantism published some years ago). After reading the theology manuals, I concluded that Silveira, Fr. Boulet, Wernz and Vidal did not classify Suarez’s position correctly. We certainly didn’t get that from you, since you also err in the classification of Suarez’s position, following these authorities! So we didn’t get any “distinctions” from you. When we were writing our book, I suggested the terminology “Dominican Opinion” (for Cajetan and JST), and the “Jesuit Opinion” (for Suarez and Bellarmine) – a distinction that we never had seen made before, certainly not by Sedevacantists like you who wrongly argue that Bellarmine and Suarez differed.

J. Lane: Bellarmine's solution is to point to the unity of profession of the Church, so that manifest heretics are not members, period, along with the divine law that ALL are obliged to fly from heretics, and then he poses the rhetorical question, how can we avoid our own head?  So, he repeatedly refutes the notion that the pope can be judged,…

J. Salza: Show us where Bellarmine says a Pope cannot be judged when accused of heresy (as an exception to the general rule). Quote Bellarmine directly. I have already provided you quotes from Bellarmine saying the exact opposite, that the Pope can be judged in the case of heresy, the one case where the superior is judged by his inferiors. It’s no wonder why you are avoiding that quotation. And, as you will see, when Bellarmine points to the “unity of profession” of the Church, he is referring to all those who hold the Church (and the reigning Pope) as the infallible rule of faith vis-à-vis those who publicly defect from the Church as the infallible rule. That is why those Catholics who hold materially heretical doctrines but still acknowledge the Church as the rule of faith do not formally rupture the unity of faith or profession of the Church. And that is why the conciliar Popes are not manifest heretics, according to Bellarmine’s own definition, as I further prove below.

J. Lane: …and repeatedly asserts that a manifest heretic leaves the Church by his own act, prior to ANY action by the authority of the Church whatsoever - a trial, a judgment, or a declaration of a crime. Billot and Wernz-Vidal understand him this way, and so does everybody else that I have seen.  Team Siscoe and Salza are the sole exception.

J. Salza: Not quite. Allow me to help you with the theology and history. As we explain in detail in our book, one who leaves the Church by his own act refers to one who publicly defects from the Church, meaning they no longer hold the Church as the infallible rule of faith. As I said above, it does not mean one who simply holds materially heretical doctrines but professes to be Catholic (that is, one who professes to hold the Church as the infallible rule). None of the conciliar Popes have left the Church by renouncing her as the infallible rule. This is why Bellarmine uses the exceptional case of Novatian as an example. Novatian didn’t simply hold materially heretical doctrines; he actually publicly defected from the Church by refusing to recognize Pope Cornelius as the true Pope (just as you have done with the conciliar Popes), and Novatian even declared himself to be Pope. Thus, when Bellarmine refers to a “manifest heretic,” he is referring to one who openly leaves the Church, not simply one who holds materially heretical doctrines and is privately judged a heretic by the Catholic in the pew.

Bellarmine’s use of the extraordinary case of Novatian makes this crystal clear. And his reference to John Driedo’s teaching also makes it clear. In De Ecclesiasticis Scripturis et Dogmaticos, Driedo (in the quotation Bellarmine refers to) speaks of those who “are either cut off by the Church’s judgment, or depart of their own accord” (vel sua sponte exeant) (p. 517).  So you have made two errors in your interpretation of Bellarmine’s meaning of “manifest heretic,” by failing to understand the two ways one qualifies as a manifest heretic (according to Bellarmine and Driedo, upon whom Bellarmine relies). Your first error is your failure to understand that a manifest heretic does include those who “are cut off by the Church’s judgment.” Your second error is your failure to understand that “those who depart of their own accord” (the second way one becomes a manifest heretic according to Bellarmine and Driedo) are those who depart from the Church as the infallible rule of Faith.  According to Bellarmine’s own criteria, then, the conciliar Popes are not “manifest heretics.”

J. Lane: So Bellarmine’s definition of “heretic pope” is “not a pope.”  Plug that into the texts and your confusion will clear away.

J. Salza: Wrong. You are the confused one, not me. Bellarmine says just the opposite, and you are unable to refute it. A Pope (as superior) can be judged by the Church (as inferior) in the case of heresy.  Here is what Bellarmine wrote:

“The Third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy. Turrecremata in the aforementioned citation relates and refutes this opinion, and rightly so, for it is exceedingly improbable. Firstly, because that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent. And what is more, in the Fourth Council of Constantinople, Act 7, the acts of the Roman Council under Hadrian are recited, and in those it was contained that Pope Honorius appeared to be legally anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, the only reason where it is lawful for inferiors to judge superiors. (…) Hadrian, with the Roman Council, and the whole Eighth Synod sensed that in the case of heresy, a Roman Pontiff [not a former Roman Pontiff] can be judged. Add, that it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”

The Church makes this judgment by establishing the Pope’s pertinacity through charitable warnings (not a juridical process), and then declares the fact that the pertinacity has been established (as Pope Innocent III says, the Pope judges himself; as JST says, the Church “indirectly” judges the Pope). Plug that formula into the texts you are reading and your confusion will clear away. As also demonstrated, when Bellarmine says “manifest heretic,” he is referring either to one who has been determined by the Church to be a heretic, or one who renounces the Church and the reigning Pope as the infallible rule of Faith, as Novatian did in his day, and as you do with the conciliar Popes in our day.

J. Lane: Ballerini, as you'd know if you read more of him (I know you can’t, so get him translated), …

J. Salza: You first claim to know very little about me, but then claim to know my reading comprehension of Latin and how much I have actually read of Ballerini. This is another example of how you attempt to belittle your opponents and how you even contradict yourself in your efforts to do so.  The fact of the matter is that we have the entire section of Ballerini translated, including that which Da Silveira left out of his book.

J. Lane: …is absolutely not defending the notion that anybody can warn the pope juridically, but explicitly says that any such warning would be an act of fraternal correction, which is charity, NOT justice.  You omitted to quote this in your book (you cut your quote short just at the very point necessary to exclude it), and I suspect this is because you don't grasp what he is saying, so you don't see its importance:  "One sees then that in the case of a heresy, to which the Pontiff adhered privately, there would be an immediate and efficacious remedy, without the convocation of a General Council: for in this hypothesis whatever would be done against him before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in order to call him to reason, would constitute an obligation of charity, not of jurisdiction..."

J. Salza: John, be prepared for more embarrassment. Robert and I cannot fathom how you can make such false statements.  We did in fact include this very quote from Ballerini, which shows that you are having serious issues with reading, not to mention comprehending, the material in our book. Or you are simply making rash judgments because this is such an emotional issue for you. Here is the quotation from page 262 of our book that you falsely claim we didn’t include:

“[W]hat they (Sedevacantists) fail to understand is that a warning can be either an act of judgment (which is proper to a superior), or a work of mercy and therefore an act of charity. As an act of charity, an inferior can certainly warn, or fraternally correct, a superior, “provided,” as St. Thomas noted, “there be something in the person that requires correction.”   Fr. Ballerini, who was cited at length above with respect to warning a heretical Pope, made this very point. He said “whatever would be done against him [a heretical Pope] before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in order to call him to reason, would constitute an obligation of charity, not of jurisdiction.”[1] (emphasis added)

J. Salza: So, John, you are wrong once again. We included the very quote that you falsely accused us of not including, and we repeatedly emphasize that these warnings are acts of charity and not jurisdiction. See TOFP pages 240-241, 262-263.

Why do you need to falsify our position by making false accusations and straw men arguments? Is this ignorance? Recklessness? Malice? God knows. But this is why it’s best that we no longer correspond unless you quote from our book directly.

J. Lane: So the suggested "process" is informal, not juridical, and is in the order of epistemology, not government.  It is about forming a secure judgment of reason, not about governing the Church.  For the question, according to Bellarmine, is one of "knowing a fact".  

J. Salza: I have corrected you above. And while Bellarmine is referring to “knowing a fact,” the real question is who establishes “the fact”? Sedevacantist laymen like you with no authority, or the Church? Bellarmine answers, by referring to Driedo’s teaching: The “manifest heretic” is one who has been expelled by the Church’s judgment, or one who has departed from the Church by renouncing her as the rule of Faith – neither of which the Conciliar Popes have done. And note also that even in the case of public defection, the 1917 Code requires a warning from the Church (and the new Code also requires a declaration of the “fact”). 

J. Lane: Your own source Smith tells us that he is relying upon Craisson for his doctrine.  Craisson in the place given by Smith, says this:

<< Question 6. Whether a Pope who falls into heresy ipso iure forfeits the Pontificate. I answer, with R. de M. (in his Institutiones Juris Canonici, t.1, p.265): “There are two opinions, says, Azor. (…) one of which holds that he is indeed deprived of the Pontificate by divine law but is to be declared afterwards by sentence of the Church to have fallen from the Pontifical dignity – this opinion is held by Paludanus, etc. (…) A heretic is outside the Church and therefore cannot be considered to be a member of the Church, so how can someone be head of the Church who is not a member of the Church? It seems that this can also be deduced from the chapters Quod autem; Acacius; and Audivimus, caus.24, q.1, etc.”.

J. Salza: So, John, let me understand this. Rather than address St. Robert Bellarmine’s teaching directly, that in the case of heresy, a Pope can be judged by his inferiors, you rather use Craisson? He is now your new authority? Fine. We are used to Sedevacantists taking a snippet here and a fragment there from anyone who they think supports their case (someone just referred to this material on the suscipedomine blog a couple months ago). We have the actual book.

Nothing in Craisson’s teaching is incompatible with what we present in our book. In fact, everything harmonizes together (but you wouldn’t see that because you don’t actually know our position or understand the positions of Bellarmine, Suarez, Cajetan or John of St. Thomas). Craisson’s statement that “he is deprived of the Pontificate by divine law but is to be declared afterwards by a sentence of the Church to have fallen” does not preclude the Church from establishing the Pope’s pertinacity, which it does through the charitable warnings, just as Ballerini himself taught, in the section that you failed to cite. Establishing that fact (or getting the Pope to amend) is the very purpose of the warnings. That the Church is responsible for this process is irrefutable and is the unanimous opinion of all the theologians. Whether the Church declares the Pope is guilty of the crime of heresy before or after finding him guilty of heresy, and whether she also declares the See to be vacant (a separate declaration), are theological opinions that we do not definitively commit to in our book (although we believe that the Church would have to declare the crime, before declaring the See vacant). We are also not as direct and explicit as Bellarmine, who says a Pope is judged by his inferiors for heresy. We were much more nuanced in our book. We erred on the side of caution. None of this helps your case, because you deny the unanimous opinion that the CHURCH, not vigilante Sedevacantists, establishes “the fact” of pertinacity through the process of charitable warnings, which it would then declare to the faithful.

And this poses further problems for you, because Suarez says the common opinion is that the Church does declare the crime of heresy, and then the Pope falls AFTER (not before) the declaration (the declaration inducing the dispositive cause of the loss of office according to the Jesuit Opinion). And John of St. Thomas, who wrote an entire treatise on this subject matter, says that Suarez and Bellarmine held the SAME position. And, further, Suarez’s (and Bellarmine’s) teaching can be perfectly harmonized with that of Craisson, because Craisson is almost certainly referring to the second declaration the Church could make, that is, by declaring that the See is vacant – and which would come AFTER the first declaration of the crime of heresy, which was the dispositive cause for the vacancy. We address all of this in our book, John, and you have not read it or comprehended it.

Craisson’s statement that the Pope is “deprived of the pontificate by divine law” is true because it is Christ, not the Church, who severs the bond between the man (the matter) and the papacy (the form). But Christ will not sever the bond in secret. According to the Jesuit Opinion, the Church’s declaration of the crime of heresy (which marks the point of no return for the Pope to amend) serves as the dispositive cause of the loss of office, with Christ being the Efficient Cause (and this is consistent with Craisson, who is referring to the second declaration of vacancy). You have failed to grasp these distinctions. It’s all in our book. And to our knowledge, no modern scholar has addressed the distinction between dispositive and efficient cause as regards the loss of the papal office before we wrote the book. That is another thing that you will now learn from us.

J. Lane: “The second opinion denies in general that a pope who becomes a heretic is removed by divine law from his authority, holding rather that he is to be removed. This is the opinion of Cajetan, etc. (…). For the other bishops are not considered to be ipso jure deprived…as soon as they become heretics. Until (…) at least their crime has been declared, meanwhile (…) their acts are valid… The Pope would have to be deprived by a General Council if he were to fall into heresy.” See also what is said below (§6123) >>  translation by JS Daly.

J. Salza: This is what we have termed the “Dominican Opinion” which, like the Jesuit Opinion, requires the Church to establish the fact of the Pope’s pertinacity. The difference is, in the Dominican Opinion, after establishing the Pope’s pertinacity, the Church takes the additional step of declaring to the faithful that the Pope is vitandus, which would constitute a juridical act as regards the faithful (the Church has the authority to command the faithful), but not the Pope. This is the position of Cajetan and JST that you have not understood. Thus, in this opinion, the dispositive cause of the loss of office is the vitandus declaration to the faithful, but Christ is still the Efficient Cause of the loss of office; of the severing of the bond between the man and the papacy. JST goes into a beautiful metaphysical explanation of how the vitandus declaration induces a disposition into the matter (the man) which renders him impotent to continue as Pope (because he is now avoided by the faithful). And no juridical process over the Pope ever takes place. As JST says, the Church “indirectly” judges the Pope because, as Pope Innocent III says, “the Pope judges himself.”

In BOTH opinions, the Church establishes the “fact” that the Pope is a manifest heretic through the charitable warnings which, again, is not a juridical process over the Pope. And the formal establishment of pertinacity through the charitable warnings (and the subsequent declaration of the crime according to both the Jesuit and Dominican Opinions) necessarily precedes Christ’s removal of the Pope, for Christ will not remove the Pope without the actions of the Church (and JST says these warnings must come from the Cardinals, which is presumably what we are going to see in the case of Pope Francis). Again, you have failed to understand our position and the meaning of the two opinions that you claim to understand and even teach us! You haven’t taught us a thing, John, other than we thought you knew much more than you actually do.

J. Lane: So, two opinions, and the first of these is that of Bellarmine, and is summarised as, "he is indeed deprived of the Pontificate by divine law but is to be declared afterwards by sentence of the Church to have fallen from the Pontifical dignity..."

 Afterwards.  He is to be declared afterwards to have fallen previously from the pontifical dignity.  

J. Salza: Already addressed above. Craisson is referring to the declaration of vacancy which comes after the Church’s establishment of the fact of pertinacity and declaration of the crime, according to the Jesuit Opinion.  See page 358 of TOFP (point #3) for one of the times that we address this point.

J. Lane: What precedes this fall?  Only a warning of fraternal charity, not a juridical process. 

J. Salza: First, none of the recent Popes have been issued an ecclesiastical warning as a matter of charity. Second, while it is true that the Church does not exercise an act of jurisdiction over the Pope prior to his fall from the office, according to the common opinion from the days of Bellarmine, a declaratory sentence of the crime also precedes the loss of office.  As Suarez explicitly states, the Church declares the crime and then the heretical Pope is ipso facto and immediately deposed by Christ. He says this is the common opinion, and John of St. Thomas states that this common opinion was held by both Suarez and Bellarmine. He wrote:

“It cannot be held that the pope, by the very fact of being a heretic, would cease to be pope antecedently [prior] to a declaration of the Church.  It is true that some seem to hold this position; but we will discuss this in the next article.  What is truly a matter of debate, is whether the pope, after he is declared by the Church to be a heretic, is deposed ipso facto by Christ the Lord [Jesuit Opinion], or if the Church ought to depose him [Dominican Opinion].  In any case, as long as the Church has not issued a juridical declaration, he must always be considered the pope, as we will make more clear in the next article. ... Bellarmine and Suarez are of the opinion that, by the very fact that the Pope is a manifest heretic and declared to be incorrigible, he is deposed [ipso facto] by Christ our Lord [Jesuit Opinion] without any intermediary, and not by any authority of the Church.”

John, if you choose to depart from this common opinion [that the declaration of the Church precedes the loss of office], and embrace what JST said “cannot be held,” that’s your choice, but please don’t pretend that your opinion represents the teaching of the Church or her classical theologians.

J. Lane: You, on the other hand, say that a juridical process must precede the fall from membership in the Church, and the loss of office, with a corresponding declaration, or finding by an authority. 

J. Salza: Again, wrong. You either haven’t read our book, or don’t understand what you have read. We have never said a juridical process over the Pope precedes his fall from office. But we do maintain with Bellarmine that a Pope can be judged in the case of heresy, and this judgment is rendered after the two warnings and his failure to amend. The declaration of the fact is an “indirect” judgment of the Pope (in the words of JST), for the Pope has “judged himself” (in the words of Pope Innocent). Will you now be sure to correct both yourself and those with whom you have “conversed” about our alleged theological opinions?

J. Lane: You contrast this with your invented concept, “private judgement.”  (In order to make your concept of private judgement appealing, you are forced to abuse the texts of the Summa, and take those dealing with usurped judgement as though they applied to all non-authoritative observation of fact.  Look at McHugh and Callan for clear, undeniable, evidence that there is lawful “private judgment” quite distinct from Protestant private judgement.  You’d know this if you knew your moral theology.)

J. Salza: More unsubstantiated attacks on my knowledge and abilities, which are completely off base. Of course the laity are allowed to render private judgments, since doing so is a normal function of the intellect.  But they are not allowed to judge and then publicly declare that a prelate (much less a Pope), who is recognized as a member of the Church in good standing, has lost his office due to manifest heresy. This is not only a private judgment, but a public declaration. That is a perfect example of a “judgment by usurpation” that is forbidden.

J. Lane: Now, John, let's say I am mistaken about all of this.  Let's suppose that you are right and I am wrong.  Is it even plausible that my answer is unlawful?  No, my answer is supported by strong arguments and any Catholic can hold it in good faith.  This was the view of Archbishop Lefebvre also, who not only retained excellent relations with sedevacantists like Bill Morgan and Fr. Raffali, but who publicly speculated he might adopt their view himself.

J. Salza: John, no reputable theologian has taught that a layman in the pew can declare that a Pope, who is recognized as such by the Church, has lost his office due to “manifest heresy.” On the contrary, Herve explicitly teaches the following: “Given that, as a private person, the Pontiff could indeed become a public, notorious, and obstinate heretic … only a Council [the Church] would have the right to declare his see vacant.” And it is also not lawful to declare that a Pope who has been peacefully and universally accepted by the Church (which is the case for the conciliar Popes) is an antipope. The theologians who have addressed this issue say such a judgment is a grave sin against the Faith, and John of St. Thomas says it is heretical. So yes, your position is unlawful. And stop abusing Archbishop Lefebvre. He was not a Sedevacantist, which is why he said: “I have always warned the faithful vis-à -vis the sedevacantists” (Archbishop Lefebvre).

J Lane: If this much is true, as it obviously is, then you have no right to be abusing me and others like me in public print, or even in private.  

J. Salza: As I demonstrated above, this much is absolutely not true, and thus your conclusion does not follow. You have falsely accused us of holding positions we don’t hold, and have failed to understand the theology, as demonstrated above.

J. Lane: Your own bombast and aggression is unlawful.  It offends against justice and charity, not merely against charity.  Other sins follow naturally and inevitably from these, including the incredible situation in which you accuse me of self-deceit and of lying to others when I defend myself from your injustice.  (I am surprised that your priest advisers are not making this point very strongly to you, or if they are, that you are not amending your stand.)

J. Salza: John, it is you who has offended against justice and charity, by engaging in your clandestine campaign to tarnish our reputations and discredit our book, all the while you don’t know our positions or comprehend the theological positions that we present in that very book. You attacked us, and we have responded only to defend ourselves and our work against your false accusations and erroneous theology, which we have a right and a duty to do (and will continue to do so, as long as you persist in your efforts against us). These efforts are despicable and disgraceful. It says a lot about the person of John Lane. But it is a good sign for us and the book. The devil is doing everything in his power to discredit us and our work.

J. Lane: By the way, I never hold a grudge - ask anybody who knows me - so this will all evaporate the moment you stop attacking me and Roman theology.  But while you maintain your attack - and, incredibly, you propose to repeat it in print soon - I will continue to point out its injustice and falsehood.

J. Salza: John, it is you who has attacked us and our book, a book that you evidently have not read or don’t comprehend, seeing that you have falsely accused us of omitting quotations and holding theological positions we do not hold. Now the burden of justice is on you to correct any misstatements you have made to others about our book. Please start with His Excellency, Bishop Fellay.

J. Lane: Robert is demanding that I be stripped of my access to the mass and sacraments, merely for failing to fall at your feet and agree with your theory.

J. Salza: This is another falsehood (you deal in many). Robert never “demanded” that you be stripped of your access to the Mass and sacraments. Robert simply suggested that barring you from the sacraments may just be the act of charity and justice that you need to lift the scales from your eyes. He demand nothing. This is how the Church deals with public sinners.

To conclude, regarding your offer to keep this a private correspondence – Robert and I are willing to keep it as private, or make it as public, as you wish. For now, since you yourself have engaged Frs. X-1 and X-2 (whose correction you have refused), and Fr. X-3, and have even copied B-1, I must include them on this correspondence, and will go beyond that, if necessary, in order to mitigate the damaged you are attempting to cause us.

I plan no further correspondence unless you quote from our book directly.

In Christ crucified,
John Salza