More Lunacy From Steve Speray.

STEVEN SPERAY’S ERRONEOUS INTERPRETATION JOHN OF ST. THOMAS REFUTED

Part I

The Sedevacantist apologist, Steve Speray, recently posted an article on his website in which he argues that John of St. Thomas (JST) criticized St. Bellarmine for allegedly rejecting the need for warnings in the case of papal heresy.  For years, Mr. Speray has been employing any and every tactic to avoid the fact that Bellarmine clearly teaches that a heretical Pope must be avoided “after two corrections/warnings” as St. Paul teaches concerning heretics.  Mr. Speray located a snippet of John of St. Thomas’ writings on the internet, which he thought supported his erroneous interpretation of Bellarmine, and then used it in an attempt to defend his position. 

What he didn’t realize is that he not only took JST completely out of context, but ended by interpreting him as meaning the exact opposite of what he actually says.  In reality, JST affirms that Bellarmine requires warnings in the case of a heretical Pope.  He then uses this teaching of Bellarmine (i.e., requiring two warnings) against him by demonstrating that according to Bellarmine’s own reasoning the position of Cajetan (which JST was defending) would have to be correct.

While Mr. Speray’s entire article is riddled with errors from start to finish (which is surely no surprise for those familiar with his writings), in Part I we will focus only on Mr. Speray’s assertion that JST “criticizes Bellarmine for rejecting the need for two warnings.”  In Part II, we will address Mr. Speray’s equally absurd claim that “Bellarmine requires private judgment”. 

From Speray’s article:

“ What Siscoe doesn’t tell his readers is that John of St. Thomas criticizes Bellarmine for rejecting the need for two warnings. That’s right, the very person Siscoe (and Salza) uses as the primary source against sedevacantists, supports sedevacantists on Bellarmine.  John of St. Thomas wrote:  “Bellarmine objected that the Apostle [St Paul] says that we must avoid the heretic after two admonitions, that is to say, after he clearly appears pertinacious, before any excommunication and sentence of a judge, as St. Jerome says in his commentary, for heretics separate themselves by the heresy itself (per se) from the Body of Christ.” … According to John of St. Thomas, Siscoe is wrong about Bellarmine.


As usual, Mr. Speray has it exactly backwards.  When JST says, “Bellarmine objected that the Apostle says that a heretic is to be avoided after two corrections,” he doesn’t mean Bellarmine objects to the teaching “that the Apostle says that a heretic is to be avoided after two corrections,” which is what Mr. Speray thinks.  Rather, he means Bellarmine objected to the teaching of Cajetan (that JST had just presented) by arguing “that the Apostle says that a heretic is to be avoided after two corrections”.  The teaching that “the heretic is to be avoided after two warnings” is what Bellarmine himself used in an attempt to refute Cajetan; it is not an argument that Bellarmine “objected” to.  This is the problem with Sedevacantist apologists, such as Steve Speray, who seek to interpret snippets found on the internet, while failing to understand the context or the underlying theology (the latter of which will be discussed in Part II).

Had Mr. Speray read the complete treatise of JST, the context would have made it abundantly clear that he was not “criticizing Bellarmine of rejecting the need for two warnings.”  But even without knowing the context, what JST meant should have been evident to anyone familiar with Bellarmine’s refutation of the Fourth Opinion (Cajetan’s opinion), which is what JST was quoting.  Here is Bellarmine’s argument against the Fourth Opinion, in his own words, taken from De Romano Pontifice:

“Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice: “The fourth opinion is that of Cajetan, for whom the manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church. To my judgment, this opinion [of Cajetan] cannot be defended. For, in the first place [here comes Bellarmine’s argument against Cajetan’s position], it is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is ipso facto deposed.  The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus, c. 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate — which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence.

As we can see, Bellarmine doesn’t object to the teaching that a heretic must be avoided after two warnings.  He objects to the position of Cajetan by arguing that a heretic must be avoided after two warnings. 

What Bellarmine is essentially arguing is that the loss of papal office happens, dispositively, by the act of the Pope himself in remaining hardened in heresy in the face of ecclesiastical warnings (the declaration of the crime merely being  condition for Christ to depose him formally), and not due to any excommunication or juridical sentence.  That is Bellarmine’s position.  The position of Cajetan/JST is that it is not the act of the Pope, but rather the act of the Church herself declaring him vitandus (to be avoided) that produces the dispositive cause for the loss of office (this will be explained at length in Part II).   

In case there is still any doubt that JST was presenting Bellarmine’s own position (as an objection to that of Cajetan), here is the teaching of Bellarmine, followed by JST’s presentation of Bellarmine’s teaching.  I will also provide the previous sentence of JST (which Mr. Speray obviously didn’t read) since it clearly shows that he is presenting the objections of Bellarmine (and Suarez) against the teaching of Cajetan: 

John of St. Thomas presenting Bellarmine’s argument against Cajetan:  “The arguments of Bellarmine and Suarez against the foregoing opinions [of Cajetan] are easily refuted.  For Bellarmine objects [to the teaching of Cajetan by arguing] that the Apostle says that a heretic is to be avoided after two corrections, that is, after he manifestly appears to be pertinacious; and that happens before any excommunication or judicial sentence…”

Bellarmine’s own argument against Cajetan’s position: “[I]t is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is ipso facto deposed.  The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus, c. 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate — which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence.” 

As we can see, Mr. Speray has yet again “interpreted” an authority as meaning the exact opposite of what he actually says, which, given his track record, is not at all surprising.  In light of this, we can now understand why it is that “Siscoe doesn’t tell his readers that John of St. Thomas criticizes Bellarmine for rejecting the need for two warnings.”  Indeed Siscoe doesn’t, since JST did no such thing.


In Part II, we will used Mr. Speray’s absurd claim that “Bellarmine requires private judgment” to explain the somewhat complicated position of John of St. Thomas and Cajetan, which very few correctly understand.

11 comments:

CT said...

I'll make it simple for you and cut out the bs: Does a pope have to be a Catholic? Yes or no.

CT said...

Objection to form.
His Excellency used to be a sede-privationalist; can you please update your question, given his true stance and is a heretic, apostate, or schismatic an illegal member of the Church?

TrueorFalsePope said...

Yes, the Pope has to be a legal member of the Catholic Church, and all of the recent Popes have indeed been legal members of the Catholic Church before and during their Pontificates, as even Bishop Sanborn concedes. If you disagree that they have been legal members of the Church, explain why Bishop Sanborn is wrong.

Now if a conclave were to elect an Eastern Orthodox bishop, or a Protestant minister, or a Sedevacantist priest, as Pope, this would be an invalid election, since public heretics and schismatics are not Catholics - that is, they are not legal members of the Church - and hence cannot be validly elected as the head of the Church to which they do not belong.

TrueorFalsePope said...

Reply to second comment from CT:

Here is the teaching of Bishops Sanborn:

“…despite his public heresy, it was still necessary that Nestorius undergo warnings by the Pope ... The case is strikingly close to our own. …we do not have the authority to declare the sees legally vacant which these heretical ‘popes’ or ‘bishops’ possess de facto. Only the authority of the Church can do that. … until their designation to possess the authority is legally declared null and void by competent authority, THE HERETICAL ‘POPE’ OR ‘BISHOP’ IS IN A STATE OF LEGAL POSSESSION OF THE SEE … HE CAN ONLY LOSE THAT STATE OF LEGAL POSSESSION BY LEGAL DEPOSITION.”

If you disagree with Bishops Sanborn, explain why he is wrong. If you believe he no longer holds this position, provide a citation from him to back up your claim and have him explain why he was previously mistaken.

CT said...

You're misrepresenting Bishop Sanborn, it appears.
Besides, Nestorius fell under the penal code; popes do not, but they can renounce their office BY DEFECTING FROM THE FAITH, as Nestorius had done.
So the question is this: Do you claim that the Vatican II "popes" profess the Catholic Faith or not? If they do, can you please explain how they do so, while at the same time, knowingly reject dogmas, morals, and discipline? If they don't, then how is the teaching of Pius XII--that heresy, apostasy, or schism separates one from the Catholic Church--not being rejected?

TrueorFalsePope said...

CT: You're misrepresenting Bishop Sanborn, it appears.

TOFP: No, I have presented his position correctly, which you would know if you understood the Cassiciacum Thesis, which is what Bishop Sanborn holds. Sanborn acknowledges that the recent Popes have all lawfully held the Papacy, since they have not been warned by the proper authorities, nor have they been declared to NOT to be Popes by the Church.

CT: Besides, Nestorius fell under the penal code;

TOFP: Really? Please quote the applicable canon from the penal code that was in force at the time of Nestorius (early fifth century).

CT: popes do not, but they can renounce their office BY DEFECTING FROM THE FAITH, as Nestorius had done.

TOFP: None of the recent Popes have “publicly defected from the faith”. That phrase has a meaning and none of the recent Popes meet the definition. Nor has the Church ever taught that a Pope will lose his office if he publicly defects from the faith (canon law does not apply in the case of a Pope, as you yourself acknowledged, and nothing in Divine Law teaches that he will). Very many theologians have taught that a public defection, in and of itself, would NOT result in the loss of the papal office.

CT: So the question is this: Do you claim that the Vatican II "popes" profess the Catholic Faith or not? If they do, can you please explain how they do so, while at the same time, knowingly reject dogmas, morals, and discipline?

TOFP: “Profession of the true Faith” is an external social bond of unity with the Church, and it has a formal and material aspect. The material aspect is the understanding and external profession of the Church’s infallible doctrines; the formal aspect is submission to the Church as the rule of faith. The bond is only violated materially by the profession of heretical doctrines; it is formally severed if one publicly leaves the Church, or is declared a heretic by the proper authorities. A person only ceases to be a member of the Church when the bond is formally severed, not simply when it is materially violated (as Fr. Berry and the Catechism of Trent explain). None of the recent Popes have formally severed the bond, which explains why they have remained legal members of the Church and why they all retained their office legally (as Sanborn acknowledges).

CT: If they don't, then how is the teaching of Pius XII--that heresy, apostasy, or schism separates one from the Catholic Church--not being rejected?

TOFP: As explained, above, they have not formally severed the social bond of “profession of the true faith”. We should also note that heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Church spiritually (or quoad se), but it only legally separates one from the Church if the person openly leaves the Church of his own will, or is declared a heretic by the proper authoriteis. None of the recent Popes have openly left the Church of their own will, nor have they been legally declared to have lost their office. Hence, nothing in Mystici Corporis Christi supports the Sedevacantist position.

On the other hand, Mystici Corporis Christ does condemn the Sedevacantists, since they have openly left the Church (and publicly admit it) due to their error that the true Church has become a false Church (which is the same error as the Orthodox). This public and admitted act of the Sedevcantists (openly leaving the Church) is schism in the true sense of the word, and it has formally severed them from the Church.

Since there is no salvation outside the Church, a Sedevacantist cannot be saved unless he renounces his error and returns to the unity of the Church. Sedevacantism is an overreaction to the crisis in the Church, and will no doubt be condemned as a heresy when the present crisis is over.

CT said...

Your statements misrepresented the Cassiciacum Thesis; the late Bishops Vida Elmer and Gerard de Lauries wrote extensively on what it is and is not. Nowhere have I read what you have written from the writings they have left.

As far as the penal code, it was and still is understood that while a pope is above the law he legislates, he can renounce his office by public defecting from the Faith. Just as a series of circumstances make a case; that case can be made that the folks who wear white and lived in Rome since 1958 were not Catholics, but rather, usurpers. Therefore, the criteria has been met time and time again since then.

That being said, from statement on "Profession of Faith" to MCC, I have not read anyone who interprets such things--priests, bishops, canonist, or otherwise. Ever thought of being open to the possibility that you might be interpreting the wrong way?

Speaking of questions, in attempt to reel this back in, the original question I asked was never answered--or if there was an answer in all of that, I just haven't found it--do your popes teach the Catholic Faith or do they promote and legislate constant heresy and apostasy?
Yes or no.

TrueorFalsePope said...

CT: Your statements misrepresented the Cassiciacum Thesis; the late Bishops Vida Elmer and Gerard de Lauries wrote extensively on what it is and is not. Nowhere have I read what you have written from the writings they have left.

TOFP: What statement of mine are you talking about? I quoted Bishop Sanborn directly saying the recent popes have been legal office holders of the Papacy. I did not interpret what he said, but simply quoted him, and the quote came from his lengthy article explaining the Cassiciacan Thesis. Here’s a link to the article: http://mostholytrinityseminary.org/An%20Emperor%20We%20Have.pdf

CT: As far as the penal code, it was and still is understood that while a pope is above the law he legislates, he can renounce his office by public defecting from the Faith.

TOFP: Two points: 1) Previously you said Nestorious was under the penal code at the time. I asked to you cite the applicable canon that was in force in the 5th Century, and you haven’t done so. 2) “It was and still is understood” that the Pope can renounce his office if he publicly defects from the faith, as you said, but WHEN and HOW the loss of office occurs formally has never been settled by the Church. The question has been disputed for many centuries by some of the greatest minds in the Church, and it remains an open question today.

CT: Just as a series of circumstances make a case; that case can be made that the folks who wear white and lived in Rome since 1958 were not Catholics, but rather, usurpers. Therefore, the criteria has been met time and time again since then.

TOFP: “A case can be made” that the last six Popes “were not Catholic,” and therefore “the criteria has been met” to prove that they were usurpers? Just because an individual, such as yourself, with no canonical or theological training thinks he can “make a case” concerning a canonical and theological matter, does not mean the case has been made. That is absurd. And it is impossible for you to “make the case,” since doing so involves, not only a question of fact (i.e., is the Pope a heretic), but also questions of law (i.e., if he is a heretic, when and how does he lose his office). The Church has never settled, and if it ever does, it will not be up to laymen in the pew to judge the matter and render their verdict publicly, as you have done. For a laymen to do what you and your Sedevacantists colleagues have done is a “judgment by usurpation,” which is a mortal sin, as St. Thomas teaches. So not only have you not made the case; you cannot make the case. You have no authority to do so legally, and if you pretend to do so your commit a mortal sin.

The fact of the matter is that, notwithstanding your private judgment to the contrary, all the recent Popes and Bishops in union with them have been legal members of the Church and legal office holders, Bishops Sanborn concedes.

CT: That being said, from statement on "Profession of Faith" to MCC, I have not read anyone who interprets such things--priests, bishops, canonist, or otherwise. Ever thought of being open to the possibility that you might be interpreting the wrong way?

TOFP: That was a confusing statement/question. If you are asking if I have sources to back up what I wrote, the answer is yes.

CT: Speaking of questions, in attempt to reel this back in, the original question I asked was never answered--or if there was an answer in all of that, I just haven't found it--do your popes teach the Catholic Faith or do they promote and legislate constant heresy and apostasy?

TOFP: There is only 1 Pope at a time. This one teaches an admixture of truth and errors (as other Popes have done), but he does not “promote and legislate CONSTANT heresy or apostasy.”

CT said...

Sheesh, I have to be blunt here: I can't even reel you in to the original question at hand, and that question was a simple "yes" or a "no." You have totally misrepresented Bishop Sanborn and the issue at hand. I see absolutely no point in continuing.

Peace be with you and prayers enclosed.

TrueorFalsePope said...

CT: Sheesh, I have to be blunt here: I can't even reel you in to the original question at hand, and that question was a simple "yes" or a "no."

TOFP: We provided a thorough answer to your question. In light of what has already been explained, here is the short answer: YES, Pope Francis “professes the faith” sufficiently enough to retain his membership in the Church. FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS: But how can that be so when he also professes errors? ANSWER: Because he has not formally severed the social bond – and neither did any of the other recent Popes, which is why they all retained legal membership in the Church, as even Bishop Sanborn is forced to acknowledge.

CT: You have totally misrepresented Bishop Sanborn and the issue at hand. I see absolutely no point in continuing.

TOFP: We quoted Bishop Sanborn directly and provided a link to the complete article so you could read it in its entirely. As you saw (or will see if/when you read it), the citation we quoted is in context and is perfectly consistent with the Cassiciacum Thesis, which anyone who understands the Cassiciacan Thesis would already know. You now realize Bishop Sanborn’s position contradicts your own and supports ours, and the only way you can get around it is by claiming we “misrepresented” him. If so, then point out how we have done so. If not, then admit he contradicts your position, since he clearly holds that the recent Popes have all been legal occupants of the Chair of Peter.

What is also clear is that the reason you ended by saying “I see absolutely no point of continuing” is because we have asked you to demonstrate how we allegedly misinterpreted Sanborn and you are unable to do so. Therefore, you are looking for a way out of this discussion without having to admit it. Your performance in this exchange is exactly what we are used to seeing with members of your sect.

MS said...

Your exactly right again John and Robert. CT's responses, particularly the last are standard sedevacantist gibberish. First, they ask a question or several they think can't be answered and will prove their erroneous belief correct, to which a perfectly clear and detailed answer is given that they either don't comprehend or don't accept, but pretend or actually think isn't answered, followed by the same question! This is inevitably preceded or followed by accusations that someone is being misrepresented, which was never the case, but based on someone taken out of context, or the imagination they themselves are being misunderstood. It is incredibly frustrating trying to help someone like this. At least CT attempted to reply on your web, which is not something the other critics such as Mario Derksen is willing to do, especially considering he criticized you for not having a comment section on your web. So where are you now Mario? Here's your opportunity to explain yourself. I think we all know why Mario and the other critics don't give their opinions here. It's because their arguments will quickly crumble when they are put in a corner with no answer to questions that actually do prove who's right and who's wrong, the way we just saw with CT. But this is to be expected from folks that prefer private judgment to the judgment of the Church.