The Kramer Files

Fr. Paul Leonard Kramer











Formal Reply to Fr. Kramer's Defection from the Faith & the Church, and Attempted refutation of "True or False Pope?"

Part I


Introduction

       After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis in 2013, Fr. Kramer publicly adopted the position that a Catholic could, by his own private judgment, and contrary to the public judgment of the Church, decide for himself if the man elected and accepted as Pope by the Church is a legitimate Pope. Kramer initially declared that Francis lost his office due to heresy, declaring on his Facebook page – “the conclusion is inescapable Sede Vacante.” He then abandoned the Sede Vacante position, but continued to reject Francis, by arguing that a grammatical error in the original Latin version of Benedict’s renunciation rendered it null, and hence that Benedict remained Pope. After a canonist pointed out the flaws in this argument, Fr. Kramer changed his position once again, this time arguing that Benedict was still Pope because he did not intend to renounce the papal office itself (the munus Petrinum), but only the active exercise thereof.[1]
       Fr. Kramer then embarked on a mission to “prove” Francis is not the Pope by adopting Sedevacantist theology and parroting their flawed arguments (often verbatim), even sharing Sedevacantist articles on his Facebook page. It was then that he became obsessed with discrediting us and our book, True of False Pope?, which he knew was a major obstacle to his new-found position, not only because it exposes the errors of Sedevacantist theology which Kramer has now adopted, but also because the book was published by the SSPX and endorsed by a wide range of Catholic scholars. To that end, Fr. Kramer has spent the past year and a half attempting to refute our work via social media, radio interviews, and through e-mails sent to a large group of recipients.
       We will first expose Fr. Kramer’s dishonest methodology. We will then explain his mischaracterization of our position and address his theological errors. 


Fr. Kramer’s Method of Attack

       Fr. Kramer began his campaign against us with countless untruths and false allegations of error or heresy, followed by the refutation of the straw men he erected.  The following is just one example, which not only demonstrates how he employs the tactic, but shows how easily his Facebook followers are deceived by it. In a Facebook post from early August of 2016, he wrote: “What Salza & Siscoe have done is to falsify and totally invert Catholic moral doctrine in order to refute error with error – exactly as Martin Luther, who combated the abuse of selling indulgences by heretically denying both indulgences and purgatory.”
       How, you may be wondering, do we supposedly falsify and invert Catholic moral doctrine? He accuses us of doing so by rejecting the Recognize & Resist (R&R) position and promoting the sin of indiscreet obedience! Here is the accusation in Fr. Kramer’s own words:
      
“Salza and Siscoe have erred gravely against Catholic teaching; inverting moral and canonical doctrine in order to bind the Catholic conscience to falsehood. This is the work of devilish iniquity: Numquid adhaeret tibi sedes iniquitatis: qui finghis laborem in praecepto? (Ps. 93) …
Eminent authorities (whom I will quote in my next installment of my reply to Salza) teach that if a pope is professing heresy, he is not [to] be obeyed. …  St. Robert Bellarmine says in De Romano Pontifice that if the pope were to attack the faith, he must be resisted, and his will must be thwarted. …  Under such circumstances, the virtue of obedience requires resistance; and to obey popes who attack the faith, liturgy, and disciplines of the Church is a sin against the virtue of obedience – it is the sin of ‘servile or indiscrete obedience”, as Prümmer explains. It is precisely this sin which Salza & Siscoe promote in their misguided attempt to combat Sedevacantism.  The result of the errors of Salza & Siscoe is something far worse than the damage that the Sedevacantists have done to the Church; since their error attempts to deprive the Catholic of the only defense of the faith against the abomination of desolation, which St. Jerome explains is ‘perverse doctrine in the Holy Place’.”
       Before showing that the accusation is entirely false, we should point out that, in the same Facebook post, he went out of his way to defend himself against the accusation that his public attacks, name-calling and inflammatory invective are contrary to charity by saying: “There is a saying in Catholic theology: Ubi non est veritas no est caritasWhere there is not truth, there is not charity. It is not I but those who oppose Catholic truth who are lacking in charity.”
       We couldn’t agree more with the axiom that where truth is lacking, so too is charity.       Now, to demonstrate how easily Fr. Kramer’s Facebook “friends” believed the accusation (that he didn’t even attempt to prove), and to show how impressed they were with his refutation of the straw man, here are are a few comments they left in support:

Karen Karwowski: “Father Kramer, thank you so much for this concise and clear explanation. May God Bless and protect you always.”
Helen Westover: “Well stated! You clear up so much, and I THANK you, Father.”
Joe Mudblock: “Father, thank you for the wonderful writings; I’ll throw the book away, what a waste of money; to find out these men have evil intentions and not the truth. Thank you for being frank and honest.” 
      What’s more, to further demonstrate their support for Fr. Kramer’s “frank and honest” refutation of our supposed errors, some of his fans began posting pictures of True or False Pope? in their trash cans. Clearly, his Facebook campaign was off to a great start and his method was working brilliantly!   
       The problem, as anyone who read the book would know, is that the accusation is entirely false (containing a two-fold lie), and his refutation is of a straw man (Ubi non est veritas no est caritas). So, whoever it was that accused him of offending against charity was entirely correct to do so. Nowhere in our entire book, or anywhere else, do we ever argue that Catholics must blindly follow an erring Pope, nor do we promote the sin of “servile or indiscrete obedience.”
       On the contrary, we devote an entire chapter to defending the doctrine that Fr. Kramer accuses us of rejecting (the right of Catholics to resist erring prelates) and refuting the sin of “servile or indiscrete obedience” that he accuses us of promoting – and it is one of the most detailed and thorough treatments of the subject you will find anywhere! (see Chapter 20, page 621).  Incredibly, Fr. Kramer publicly accuses us – in writing - of rejecting precisely what we defend, and defending precisely what we reject, and then proceeds to refute the error and sin he falsely accuses of defending and promoting!  This is just one example of the dishonest tactic he has been using constantly for the past year and a half – evidently, with some success!
       What’s almost as shocking as Fr. Kramer’s blatantly false accusations is that people so easily believed him. Any Catholic who is even remotely familiar with our work, from the many articles we have published over the years, should have known that we have always advocated for the R&R position. And Fr. Kramer himself has personally attended Fatima conferences where Salza defended the R&R position from the pulpit (as his many conference videos prove).
       Yet Fr. Kramer lies (there’s no other word for it) to his unsuspecting followers by claiming we “falsify and totally invert Catholic moral doctrine” by promoting “the sin of servile or indiscrete obedience,” and then proceeds to triumphantly refute the straw man that he erected, to the cheers of his unsuspecting Facebook followers. And, again, we cannot emphasize this enough: He does the same thing repeatedly in his never-ending campaign to discredit the authors of True of False Pope?

Kramer Defends His Decision to Criticize a Book He Hasn’t Read

      Now, while it is difficult to believe Fr. Kramer would so brashly accuse us – in writing - of rejecting positions we have defended publicly for years, it is even more difficult to believe he would attempt to refute our book without first reading it! But that is exactly what he did. Rather than reading the very detailed and scholarly book (published by one of the most respected seminaries in the English-speaking world, and endorsed by numerous seminary professors), in order to determine what our position is, Fr. Kramer instead relied on articles written by notorious Sedevacantists (which are full of errors), and short excerpts from the book that they quote (usually out of context), which he no doubt cobbled together from their websites.
       That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the scholarship and integrity of our critic. His approach is equivalent to consulting a Protestant website dedicated to exposing the “false doctrines” and evils of the Catholic Church in order to gain a proper understanding of what the Catholic Church teaches, which is one of the  most effective ways to not gain a proper understanding of what the She teaches. Yet this is essentially what Fr. Kramer did before launching his public attack on our supposed errors and heresies. Here is how he defended doing so to his Facebook fans:

Fr. Kramer: “Now let’s consider the Salza/Siscoe doctrine, which has already been adequately refuted by another author [a Sedevacantist layman with no theological training], who, (unlike myself), has endured the somewhat penitential work of reading through the entire 700 page book. I have read enough excerpts to gain an adequate understanding of the errant Salza/Siscoe arguments [remember this statement]. One does not need to jump into a refuse bin and asphyxiate on the putrid fumes to recognize its contents – a couple of sniffs suffice for the olfactory apparatus to make its determination. Likewise, it is not necessary for one to read through an entire work to recognize by the stink of their errors...” (Facebook, August 5th).
      As we will see in the material that follows, Fr. Kramer was quite mistaken to believe he could rely on “excerpts” of the book (and articles from Sedevacantist websites) to “gain an adequate understanding” of our supposed errors. Not only did his imprudence result in countless false accusations of heresy (which is a serious sin against charity and justice), but it also resulted in him wasting a year and a half of his life refuting straw men he erected as a result of his misunderstanding of our position.
       Now, we originally intended to ignore Fr. Kramer’s attacks, but when we recently learned that he intends to publish his lies and errors as a book, which could bring even more damage to souls, we felt an obligation to respond publicly, which is what we will do in this series of articles.
       In Part I below, we will address three key “heresies” Fr. Kramer accuses us of holding concerning the specific issue of how heresy severs a person from the Church, from which are borne the two main straw man arguments he attacks throughout his book. We will demonstrate that all three accusations are entirely false by quoting directly from our book.  Once these accusations of heresy are shown to be false, the two main straw man arguments – which together constitute the foundation he spends most of his time attacking - will be destroyed; and when the foundation is taken away, all the arguments and false accusations of heresy erected upon it will crumble (which will then require that Fr. Kramer re-write his entire “refutation”). 
       Later on, we will discuss the question of how a heretical prelate loses his jurisdiction/office, which is not the same question as how heresy severs a person from the Church (these are two distinct issues). This will include important material that we have never published before, as well as recently translated material from St. Bellarmine that refutes Fr. Kramer’s and the Sedevacantists’ interpretation and application of his opinion concerning a heretical Pope, and confirms precisely what we have been arguing for years. 
       

How does Heresy Sever a Person from the Church?

“Rarely affirm, seldom deny, always distinguish.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
Fr. Kramer: “This article drives the stake through the heart of Salza's and Siscoe's heresies. … Their doctrines are contrary to the Catholic faith, as is proven in the article and demonstrated beyond all legitimate dispute.  (…) The sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself without any ecclesiastical censure or judgment. … the sin of heresy suapte natura (of its nature) severs the heretic from the body of the Church…

       At the outset, we should note that Fr. Kramer’s superficial “sin of heresy” argument is precisely the same argument the Sedevacantists have used for the past 40 years to justify their rejection of all the conciliar Popes. The argument (“the sin of heresy causes a Pope to lose his office”) is identical; only the conclusion (which of the recent Popes have been guilty of the sin and thereby lost their office?) is different. The reason for the difference in the conclusion is because Fr. Kramer and his new Sedevacantist friends disagree with each other concerning which of the recent Popes have been guilty of the sin, and which have not. Fr. Kramer has no answer for the inconsistency between his private judgment and their private judgment, except to say: “I am right and they are wrong.” The truth of the matter is that they are both wrong. And their error is not only in the conclusion, but in the argument itself, due to a failure to make critical distinctions.
       Now, because Fr. Kramer has spent the last year and a half misrepresenting our position, we will begin by summarizing what we discuss at length in True or False Pope? concerning how heresy severs a person from the Church. We will also explain why it is imprecise and technically false to say, as Fr. Kramer does, that “the sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church” - if by “Body of the Church” one means external union with the Catholic Church (which is what Fr. Kramer means). This problem with Fr. Kramer’s terminology will be addressed in more detail in Part II, in our discussion of a quotation from Mystici Corporis Christi.
       We will begin with an explanation of the bonds that unite a man to the Church, and then show how these bonds are severed by heresy.

Internal and External Bonds of Union: There exist internal and external bonds of union with the Church. The external juridical bonds are profession of the faith, communion in the same sacraments, and submission to the hierarchy and especially the Pope. These juridical bonds join a man to the visible society of the Church and make him a legal member of the Body of the Church. In addition to these external bonds, there are the internal spiritual bonds of faith, hope and charity, which unite man to the Soul of the Church and join him spiritually to the other faithful.
The Sin of Heresy: The sin of heresy is a moral offense against divine law which, “of its nature, is destructive of the Christian virtue of faith.”[2] Now, because the virtue of faith is the foundation of the supernatural life (without which the bonds of hope and charity cannot remain), if a Catholic commits the sin of heresy (and loses the faith), he is entirely severed from the Soul of the Church.  However, the sin of heresy, per se, and the loss of faith resulting from it, does not formally sever one from the Body of the Church – that is, from visible communion with the Catholic Church.
       It is important to note that the nature of the sin of heresy is the same, regardless of whether the culprit has concealed it in his heart (internal act alone), or professes it publicly (external act). The difference is the extent to which the heresy has been divulged; there is no difference in the nature of the sin itself.[3]
       With this in mind, if the sin of heresy, of its nature (suapte natura), severed a person from the “Body of the Church,” as Fr. Kramer expressly states above, it would follow that even occult (secret) heretics would be cut off from external union with the Church, since they too are guilty of the sin of heresy (the nature of which is the same, regardless of the degree to which the heresy has been divulged). Yet Fr. Kramer himself does not believe occult heretics are severed from external union with the Church, but instead maintains, along with Bellarmine, that they remain members of the Body of the Church in spite of their sin of heresy. Hence, Fr. Kramer’s own position proves that it is not the nature of the sin of heresy that severs a person from the Body of the Church.
The Crime of Notorious Heresy: What separates a Catholic from external union with the Body of the Church is not the nature of the sin of heresy (again, as Kramer argues above), but rather the nature of the external act (crime[4]) of notorious heresy. This is confirmed by Cardinal Billot, who said “only notorious heretics are excluded from the body of the Church.” (De Ecclesia, Thesis II). The reason notorious heresy, of its nature, separates a Catholic from the Body of the Church is because it severs the juridical bond[5] of “profession of the faith.” The legal separation from the Church has nothing to do with the nature of the sin of heresy, and everything to do with the nature of the public act (crime) of notorious heresy. This is confirmed from the fact that Bellarmine, Cajetan and John of St. Thomas unanimously teach that a notoriously heretical Pope can be deposed, or declared deposed, even if, per accidens, he is not subjectively guilty of the sin.
       Furthermore, if the legal separation from external union with the Body of the Church were due to the nature of the sin, it would follow that 1) a Catholic who publicly left the Church and joined a non-Catholic sect, or 2) who was judged and declared a heretic by the Church, would nevertheless remain a legal member of the Church, provided he was not subjectively guilty of the sin of heresy (an hypothesis Garrigou-Lagrange says it possible), which is certainly false. What these examples further prove is that being severed from external union with the Body of the Church is not due to the nature of the sin (moral offense) of heresy, but to the nature of the public act of notorious heresy – and a public act is a crime, by its nature. This further shows that Fr. Kramer’s repeated claim that it is the nature of the sin of heresy that severs a person from the Body of the Church is false.[6] In other places he says “manifest and formal heresy” severs a person from the Body of the Church of its nature. This we agree with, since the public act (crime) of “manifest and formal heresy” is essentially the same as notorious heresy by fact, which we will discuss now.

What is Notorious Heresy? The Catholic Encyclopedia defines notorious as that which has been “so fully or officially proved, that it may and ought to be held as certain without further investigation.[7] It also explains that “notorious” is “more or less synonymous with ‘official’,”[8] as in officially recognized by the proper authorities, whether secular or ecclesiastical.
       Now, heresy can be notorious either by law or by fact. It is notorious by law, “after a sentence by a competent judge that renders the matter an adjudicated thing, or after a confession by the offender made in court in accord with Canon 1750.”[9] In this case, the certitude is due to the Church’s authoritative judgment or the admission of the suspect in a court of law.
       A notorious fact is a fact that is so certain “it may no longer be called in question.” Heresy is deemed to be notorious with a notoriety of fact, if it is “public and committed under such circumstances that no clever evasion is possible and no legal excuse could excuse.”[10] It is also important to note that for a person to be deemed a notorious heretic by fact, it doesn’t suffice that the material aspect of his heresy be public (i.e., that he adheres to a heretical doctrine); the formal aspect (pertinacity) and imputability must be public as well.[11] If a Catholic were to openly leave the Church and oppose it (not just drift away from regular attendance), or publicly admit that he rejects a defined dogma, while publicly admitting that he knows the doctrine he rejects has been defined, he would likely be deemed a notorious heretic by fact, by the Church, since, in both cases, no clever evasion would be possible and no legal excuse would excuse.
       It should be further noted – and this is also a critical point - that notorious heresy does not sever a person from the Church because it is listed as a crime (delict) in canon law, or because of the censure of excommunication that the Church attaches to the crime (another position that Fr. Kramer falsely accuses us of holding, as we will show later). Rather, notorious heresy separates a person from the Church due to the nature of the public act itself, which severs a juridical bond (i.e., “profession of the faith”). Notorious heresy would sever a person from the Church even if it were not listed as a crime in canon law.
       In light of the foregoing summary of our actual position (which is explained more thoroughly in our book), we will now address Fr. Kramer’s “refutation” of our supposed heresies.

Proving Fr. Kramer’s False Accusations and Straw Man Arguments
Fr. Kramer: “John Salza and Robert Siscoe are in heresy. Their entire doctrine on heresy and loss of office is based on their heretical proposition: ‘the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church’.”
       To begin with, the “quotation” Fr. Kramer attributes to us, which he qualifies as heretical, is nowhere to be found in our book. But, in fairness, it does closely resemble what we explain at length in Chapter Five. Had Fr. Kramer taken the time to read the book for himself, rather than relying on “excerpts” in the internet, he would have realized that what he declares to be our “heresy” (i.e., “the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church”) is, in reality, identical to what he himself believes.
       The purpose of Chapter Five is to demonstrate that the internal sin of heresy alone does not sever a person from visible communion with the Body of the Church, or cause a prelate to lose his office. This is one of the errors explicitly held by some Sedevacantists, and which has caused them to reject the legitimate reign of multiple Popes (one person we discuss rejects every Pope since the twelfth century based on this error). The chapter refutes this error by showing that the internal sin of heresy alone only severs the person from the Soul of the Church (by severing all the internal bonds); it does not formally sever one from the Body of the Church – that is, from visible communion with the Catholic Church.
       Now, what we discuss in our Chapter Five is exactly what Fr. Kramer himself believes, as can be seen by his following statements: “the sin of internal heresy does not separate one visibly from communion with the Catholic Church (…) The internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church … [not] from the body of the Church” (Fr. Kramer’s Facebook page). That is precisely what we explain in the chapter, and for which Fr. Kramer declares us to be heretics! 

The Key to Understanding
 Fr. Kramer’s Mischaracterization of Our Position

       Why did Fr. Kramer accuse us of heresy for holding a position that he himself holds? The reason is that by failing to read our book, and instead imprudently relying on isolated “excerpts” he found online, he imagined that the word alone (i.e., “the sin of heresy alone…”) meant “without an ecclesiastical censure,” or “without a pronounced judgment.” He then rashly concluded that we believe heresy does not sever a person from the Church, of its nature (“alone”), but rather due to the censure of excommunication that is attached to the crime. He then cites authoritative quotations saying that heresy, of its nature, DOES sever a person from the Church, and concludes by publicly declaring us heretics for allegedly denying it.
       Fr. Kramer could have saved himself a lot of embarrassment, if he had simply read the book, since the context would have made it perfectly clear to him that the word alone was referring to an internal sin alone (i.e., “the internal sin alone does not formally sever a person from the Body of the Church, but only from the Soul of the Church”). The word “alone” had absolutely nothing to do with an ecclesiastical censure or a judgment from the Church that might follow! The following quotations from Chapter Five clearly show this:

True or False Pope?: “The internal sin of heresy alone does not cause a prelate to lose his office (…) The sin of heresy alone does not separate one from the Body of the Church. (…) If an internal sin of heresy alone severed a person from the Body of the Church, the Church would no longer be a visible society, but an ‘invisible Church of true believers known to God alone,’ which is a heresy of Protestantism.” (…) “Consistent with the distinction between the Body and Soul of the Church, formal heresy can remain hidden in the internal forum (the internal sin of heresy), or it can be manifested in the external forum … Formal heresy in the internal forum alone (secret or “occult” heresy), only severs a man from the Soul of the Church.  It requires formal heresy in the external forum (i.e., notorious heresy) to sever him from the Body of the Church.”
       What Fr. Kramer refers to as our “heretical proposition” and claims our “entire doctrine on heresy and loss of office is based on,” is a figment of his own imagination. It is also one of the straw man arguments he has spent the last year and a half feverishly refuting, as well as the foundational error (in his own mind) that has resulted in at least two more straw man arguments, and countless falsely accusations of heresy that he has been spreading throughout the world via the internet.

Fr. Kramer’s False Accusation/Straw Man Argument
Concerning the Censure of Excommunication


Fr. Kramer: “Salza and Siscoe base their opinion on loss of office on their heretical belief that heresy by itself [i.e., “alone”] does not separate the heretic from the Church, but only by means of an ecclesiastical censure. ... John Salza and Robert Siscoe are in heresy.
       Since Fr. Kramer thought the word alone meant “without a censure,” he accuses us of being heretics for supposedly maintaining that heresy, of its nature, DOES NOT sever a person from the Church, but that it only does so due to the “ecclesiastical censure” that is attached to the crime. Here are a few quotations from the book that prove we do not hold that position which, again, could have prevented Fr. Kramer from committing such grievous sins against charity, had he read it rather than relying on “excerpts” from the internet to gain his “understanding” of our position:

True or False Pope?: “the public offense (the crime) of heresy, which, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church with no further censure attached to the offense. (…) Jerome is referring to the nature of the crime [of heresy], which severs one from the body of the Church with no additional censure attached to it.  In this sense, the crime of heresy differs in its nature from other crimes, such as physically striking the Pope or procuring an abortion, which are crimes that only sever a person from the Church by virtue of the additional censure attached to the act. (…) As mentioned above, the nature of these particular crimes (heresy, schism and apostasy) differs from that of other offenses which only severs one from the Church due to an additional censure attached to them .”
       As you can see, we explicitly and repeatedly state that heresy, schism and apostasy separate a person from the Church due to the nature of the offense, and not due to a censure that the Church attaches to it! Yet Fr. Kramer publicly accuses us of being heretics for supposedly denying what we expressly affirm!
       Now, in light of the fact that Fr. Kramer has publicly accused us of being heretics for holding a position that we explicitly reject in our book, will he have the humility to do what the divine and moral law requires and publicly recant these false accusations he’s been spreading around the world via the internet for the past year and a half? Or will he simply ignore this and persist in his slanderous campaign? We shall see. He would do well to consider the scandal he is causing to souls who are witnessing a priest acting in such an irresponsible manner, as well as the account he will have to render to God for his imprudent and reckless behavior.
       And to respond to yet another of Fr. Kramer’s straw man arguments, when we use the phrase “additional censure” or “further censure,” we do not mean a second censure in addition to some prior censure. As should be obvious to anyone of sound mind, when we say heresy, OF ITS NATURE, severs a person from the Church without an additional censure, we do not mean heresy DOES NOT sever a person from the Church, of its nature, but instead does so due to a preceding censure! How Kramer could have possibly thought that is what we meant is anyone’s guess, but it is certainly not correct. Yet this absurdity is one of the straw men Fr. Kramer triumphantly refutes throughout his manuscript, and, once again, publicly declares us to be heretics for allegedly holding.  For example, he writes:

Salza & Siscoe in their reply to my irrefutable proofs, have manifested again their blind adherence to heresy -- an adherence which is impervious to all correction; by stubbornly persisting in their heretical belief, even after multiple corrections, that manifest formal heresy, which is the obstinate denial or doubt of an article of faith, of its own nature does not separate one from the body of the Church by the very act itself; but only the canonical crime of heresy, of its own nature, severs one from the body of the Church, without any additional censure, but, nevertheless, by some means of juridical censure: by the authority of the Church.

       Not only does Fr. Kramer fail to prove his absurd accusations of heresy (and instead leaves it to us to disprove them, which we have), he also accuses us of “stubbornly persisting” in the heresy, even though we have repeatedly demonstrated to him that he has completely misrepresented our position. Thus, it is Fr. Kramer who has proven to be “impervious to all correction” and has “stubbornly persisted” in his false accusations of heresy, and that is because where there is no truth, there is no charity. If Fr. Kramer were wise, he would be more careful before rashly accusing people of heresy, since, as Pope Hadrian teaches, if a person makes an accusation he fails to prove (which will necessarily be the case when the accusation is false), he “must himself suffer the punishment which his accusation inferred” (S.T. II-II, q. 68, a. 4).
       In our latest effort to inform Fr. Kramer that he is falsely accusing us of positions we do not hold, and advise him that we would be forced to respond for the sake of the truth, this was his reply:

Fr. Kramer: “If you really think I accuse you of professing heresies you have never professed, then you are delusional. No amount of verbal trickery or subterfuge will ever be able to conceal the fact that you do indeed profess those heresies. You have professed them explicitly. Your stated intention to publish an attempt at refuting my arguments proves only that you are incorrigible, and that you are a glutton for punishment.”
       So, Fr. Kramer publicly accuses us of heresy for allegedly holding positions that anyone who has read our book would know we do not hold, and then declares us to be “delusional” for denying the false accusation, and “incorrigible” and “a glutton for punishment” for daring to issue a response to his false accusations. This shows what we have been dealing with for the past year and a half. No matter how many times we warn him that he’s accusing us of heresy for positions we do not hold, he simply ignores us and continues to spread the same false accusations. In his mind, he has read enough “excerpts” on the internet “to gain an adequate understanding of the errant Salza/Siscoe arguments,” and if Salza/Siscoe themselves disagree with his understanding of their own position, it must be because they are “delusional.”
       This brings to mind an e-mail we received last year from a reader, who said “I have debated on and off with Fr. Kramer and the sedevacantists many times and have yet to find one who is prepared to entertain even the slightest possibility that he may be in error … the devil sure knows how to make use of pride to blind and embitter those who consider themselves blessed above their fellows!” Indeed he does!
       Now, returning to the issue of the censure, as should be obvious to anyone of sound mind, when we use the phrase “additional censure” or “further censure,” what we mean is any censure that would be added by the Church as a punishment for the crime. And this terminology is not something that we came up with. Rather, it’s the same terminology employed by John of St. Thomas – one of “the most learned men of his time,” who “was placed successively (1630 and 1640) in charge of the two principal chairs of theology in the university.” Here is how he phrased the same teaching:
 
“When St. Jerome says that a heretic separates himself from the body of Christ … He refers instead to the nature of the crime, which is such per se to cut someone off from the Church, without any further censure attached to it.”
       Will Fr. Kramer accuse John of St. Thomas of meaning a second censure in addition to some prior censure? And will Fr. Kramer still accuse us of “verbal trickery” and “subterfuge” by using John of St. Thomas’ terminology, and also by quoting directly from our book to refute his false accusations? He would only further discredit himself by doing so.
       We now turn to another one of Fr. Kramer’s straw man arguments, this one dealing with whether the Church must render a formal judgment before heresy severs a person from the Church. 

Fr. Kramer’s False Accusation/Straw Man Argument
Concerning a “Pronounced Judgment of the Church”
      
Fr. Kramer: “Salza & Siscoe interpret this papal magisterial text [i.e., Mystici Corporis Christi] by conflating it with the private opinion of John of St. Thomas, in order to support their heretical belief that the sinful act of manifest formal heresy by itself does not suapte natura separate a man from the Church unless there is pronounced a judgment of the Church for the “crime” of heresy. (…) They both heretically profess, contrary to the doctrine of Pius XII, St. Pius X, St. Pius V, and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, that manifest heretics [i.e., notorious heretics] do not cease to be members of the Church entirely by means of their own external act of defection from the faith, but by the authority of the Church.”
      Fr. Kramer’s false accusations of heresy never end. As should be clear by now, we do not and never have denied that “manifest formal heresy” (notorious by fact) severs a person from the Church of itself, “without a pronounced judgment of the Church.” We have an entire section of this material in our book. The same holds true for notorious schism and apostasy, and we have never denied it. We readily admit, for example, that Fr. Cekada (whose Sedevacantist theology concerning the loss of office for heresy Fr. Kramer now promotes) is outside of the Church; as is the Sedevacantist layman (mentioned in the Introduction) who now posts Fr. Kramer’s writings on his website, and whose articles Fr. Kramer shares on his Facebook page. They both publicly left the Church of their own will, due to the Sedevacantist errors they embraced, and therefore no “pronounced judgment” is necessary to legally separate them from the Church.
       And if anyone doubts that they left the Church, all he must do is ask them if they are members of the Church over which Francis is the head - and Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John Paul I, and Paul VI were before him - and they will be the first to say “no.” Because of the Sedevacantist errors they embraced, they were led to believe that the true Church is a false Church and, like those who were led into the same heresy by the errors of Luther, they “separate themselves from the unity of the Body,” and hence it was not necessary for them to be “excluded by legitimate authority” (Mystici Corporis Christi, No. 22).
       If Fr. Kramer falls into the same error as his Sedevacantist friends (assuming he hasn’t already), and publicly declares that he is not a member of the Church headed by Pope Francis and the bishops in union with him, no “pronounced judgment of the Church” will be required in his case either. This proves that Fr. Kramer was clearly wrong to accuse us of rejecting “the doctrine of Pius XII, St. Pius X, St. Pius V, and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers.”

When a Judgment by the Church is Necessary

       As we just proved, we agree that notorious heresy severs a person from the Church without a pronounced judgment, but what if the culprit’s heresy is not notorious by fact? What if he is truly guilty of the sin of heresy, but is only suspected of heresy in the external forum? In such a case, has his heresy formally severed him from the Body of the Church due to the nature of the sin, even if his external actions only rendered him suspect of heresy? Of course not, as even Fr. Kramer would be forced to admit. Catholics who lose the faith by committing the sin of heresy, yet who are only suspected of heresy in the external forum, remain legal members of the Church (as canon law confirms).
       Now, in the case of a Catholic who is guilty of the sin of heresy and has even externalized his heresy, yet who is not deemed to be a notorious heretic by fact, he would still incur the censure of excommunication ipso facto (since the censure is even incurred by external occult heretics) but, in such a case, it would require a “pronounced judgment of the Church” (rendering him notorious by law), before he would be legally severed from the Body of the Church. The ipso facto excommunication he incurred (in the internal forum) would not, per se, have the juridical effect (in the external forum) of legally separating him from the visible society of the Church since, as Pope Benedict IV said, “a sentence declaratory of the offence is always necessary in the external forum, since in this tribunal no one is presumed to be excommunicated unless convicted of a crime that entails such a penalty.”[12]
       Now, the fact that heresy, which is not notorious by fact, requires “a pronounced judgment by the Church,” before it has the juridical effect of legally severing a person from the Church, is something that is almost never (if ever) mentioned by Fr. Kramer and his Sedevacantist friends. Due to this omission, the impression is given that heresy never requires a declaration to sever the culprit from external union with the Church. Worse still, when Fr. Kramer makes imprecise and misleading statements, such as “Heresy suapte natura (of its nature) severs one from the Church when the sin is committed, not when it is judged post factum by the Church,” his sloppy and misleading terminology adds to the confusion by implying that “the sin” of heresy, per se, automatically severs a person from the visible Church, and hence that a judgment and declaration is never required before the legal separation occurs. This is the same misleading terminology that Fr. Kramer’s Sedevacantist friends have been using for years to lead Catholics out of the Church. Perhaps that explains why they now post Fr. Kramer’s writings on their websites.
       And it appears that Fr. Kramer’s misleading terminology may have resulted in the confusion of one Peter Chojnowski. When Mr. Chojnowski posted a portion of Fr. Kramer’s disastrous “refutation” of our supposed heresies on his own website, this is what he titled it: “John Salza, Call Your Office: Fr. Kramer Releases His Text Showing that Heresy Automatically Separates one from the Catholic Church WITHOUT declaration.” Unfortunately, someone needs to call Peter Chojnowski’s office and inform him that his cute title is entirely misleading, at best, since heresy includes everything from the internal sin alone, to the public crime of notorious heresy - and only the latter automatically severs a person from external union with the Church “without a declaration.” And unless the culprit openly leaves the Church, it requires much more than what the Kramerians and their like-minded sectarians realize, in order for a person to be deemed a notorious heretic by fact.
        We will demonstrate this with an historical case that shows just how much a Catholic can “get away with” while remaining a legal member of the Church. The facts of this case are taken from an article written by the Sedevacantist apologist, John Daly.

Notorious by Fact? Not So Fast!
An Historical Example

       During the glorious pontificate of Pope St. Pius X (whom, believe it or not, some Sedevacantists now declare to be a heretical antipope!), a parish priest was faced with a difficult case concerning a family who desired to have their children baptized in the Church. The family had stopped attending Mass, had their children enrolled in a Protestant school, and even attended the Protestant church that the school was associated with from time to time. Worse still, as Mr. Daly recounts, the parents “blasphemed the Blessed Eucharist to the parish priest, relying on typically Protestant arguments,” which they no doubt learned from those at the Protestant church they attended. In spite of this, however, the family professed that they were Catholics, not Protestants, and wanted to have their newborn children baptized by the parish priest.
       The priest reached out to a moral theologian on the staff at L'Ami Du Clergé (The Friend of the Clergy) for expert guidance. He wanted to know “whether the parents had incurred [public] excommunication, whether they could be buried as Catholics, and whether, if he should manage to convert any of them, they would have to make a formal abjuration.” The staff of the highly respected publication, which was approved and even encouraged by Pope St. Pius X at the time, considered the facts of the case and concluded that the family’s attendance at Protestant services was not sufficient proof that they intended to leave the Church, which was further confirmed by the fact that they publicly declared themselves to be Catholics, and not Protestants. And even though they had blasphemed the Eucharist in the presence of the priest, the judgment of the competent authorities on the staff was that “their stated wish to be Catholics gave to understand that these poor misguided souls had no wish to knowingly and willingly reject the dogma of the Church concerning the Holy Eucharist.” Mr. Daly then gives the staff’s expert reply to the specific questions that had been posed by the priest:

“The Ami du Clergé replied that the culprits were still members of the Catholic Church, were not excommunicated, had no need to make formal abjuration of their errors, but only to repair the scandal given, and that if, dying with no sign of repentance, they were ineligible for Catholic burial.”

       So even though this family had stopped attending Mass, had become loosely affiliated with a heretical sect, and blasphemed the Blessed Eucharist to the parish priest, they were nevertheless judged to be members of the Church, due to “their stated wish to be Catholics.” This historical case is one of many we could cite that illustrates how heretical a Catholic (who does not leave the Church of his own will) can appear to be without him being deemed a notorious heretic by fact.
       As we saw earlier, for heresy to be deemed notorious by fact, it must be so “certain” that it “may no longer be called in question” (Catholic Encyclopedia). And if the culprit’s heresy it does not possess the degree of certitude necessary for it to be deemed notorious by fact, it does require a “pronounced a judgment of the Church” before the heretic is legally severed from the Church. 
       In light of this, we can understand why implying that heresy never requires a judgment to sever a person from external membership in the Church is quite misleading. For this reason, we would suggest that Mr. Chojnowski change the title of his post. On second thought, it would be better for him to remove Fr. Kramer’s disastrous article from his website entirely, since it includes multiple false accusations of heresy (an objective mortal sin of calumny), which Mr. Chojnowski himself is now responsible for spreading.
       In Part II, we will comment a quotation from the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (a favorite proof-text of Fr. Kramer and his Sedevacantist friends), that our critic mistakenly believes contradicts our position, and as well as a quotation from Msgr. Van Noort that he cited in an attempt to prove his rash assertion that “the Salza/Siscoe interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world.” The truth, as we will see, is that the quotation from Van Noort reflects our position perfectly!
       In Part III, we will begin our discussion on the loss of jurisdiction for a heretical Pope, which will include recently translated material from St. Bellarmine that most people have never seen. We will also point out an important distinction of “the jurists,” explained by a very prominent Cardinal, which will no doubt be a real shocker to Fr. Kramer. Stay tuned! We’re just getting started…






[1] We examined this theory ourselves. After studying the subject in depth, along with the related doctrinal teachings of the Church, we concluded, along with Benedict himself, that “there isn’t the slightest doubt about the validity” of his resignation, and “speculation about its invalidity is simply absurd.”
[2] Catholic Encyclopedia.
[3] The only distinction that can be made when considering the nature of heresy is between: (1) the sin of heresy that is completely concealed in the heart and has never been externalized at all, and (2) the crime of heresy that has been externalized, even if no one was around to hear it (i.e., external, occult heresy). Cajetan explains that the reason the two are distinct, according to their nature, is because the sin of heresy that remains entirely hidden in the heart can only be judged by God, according to 1 Kings 16:7 - “man seeth the things that appear, but God beholdeth the heart,” whereas the crime of heresy that has been externalized (the external act renders it a crime by its nature) is subject to the judgment of men - even if, due to the circumstances (e.g., no one around to hear it) it cannot be judged. In other words, the former is not divulged at all (hidden by its nature); the latter is divulged (external by its nature), even if no one heard it. The former is judgeable only by God; the latter can be judged by men. Heresy that has not been externalized at all is a sin, but not a crime; heresy that has been externalized (even if no one was around to hear it), is both a sin and a crime. Hence, the crime of heresy is more restrictive in its meaning than is the sin of heresy; and the external act is what makes it a crime, by its nature.
[4] The external act of heresy is, by its nature, a crime.
[5] See Mystici Corporis Christi, No. 70.
[6] We should again clarify that the statement is false if, by “body of the Church,” one means external union with the Church, which is what Fr. Kramer means.  There is another way to interpret the statement that is theologically correct. This point will be addressed in more detail in Part II, during our commentary on a quotation from Mystici Corporis Christi.
[7] Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) article on Notoriety.
[8] Ibid.
[9] 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2197, º2.
[10] 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 2197, º3 (emphasis added).
[11] Woywod, Stanislaus, A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1943), emphasis added.
[12] Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), vol. V, p. 680  


FORMAL REPLY TO FR. KRAMER, Part II


Exposing the Errors of Fr. Paul Kramer
on
Mystici Corporis Christi




       One of the most common errors among Sedevacantists is the belief that the sin of heresy causes the loss of papal office/jurisdiction.  This error is based, in part, on a misunderstanding of a quotation from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi.  Those who embrace this error quickly take it upon themselves to judge whether or not the Pope has committed the sin of heresy (while at the same time declaring “no one can judge the Pope”), and if they personally judge that he has, they immediately conclude that he is no longer Pope. The really “courageous” ones will then publicly declare him to be an antipope, formally separate from him, and accuse those who see through their errors of being too cowardly to call a spade a spade.
       And to be clear, for those who embrace “the sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory, it isn’t necessary for the Pope to publicly admit that he denies a dogma. All that is required is that he seems to be a heretic to them. They take the Douglas Adams approach to reach their verdict – namely, if he walks like a heretic and quacks like a heretic, he must be a heretic; and if he’s a heretic, he’s not the Pope.[1] The following is an example of this, taken from a letter to the Editor of the popular Traditional Catholic website, Tradition in Action:

“I am a sede-vacantist that attends an SSPX chapel here in the Detroit area. I have no degree in theology or canon law, so I try to keep it quite simple: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck; guess what, I bet it's a duck.”[2]

       Pretty simple, isn’t it? You see, when you embrace the “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory, if you personally think the man recognized as Pope by the Church is a heretic, your judgment of the “fact” suffices for you to reject his legitimacy and publicly declare him an antipope, provided, that is, that you have the courage to do so. And the award for the most “courageous” of all Sedevacantists has to go to Richard Ibranyi, who now publicly declares that every Pope and Cardinal since Pope Innocent II (A.D.1130) and every theologian and canon lawyer since the year 1250, have been antipopes and apostates. He writes:

“As of January 2014 I have discovered conclusive evidence that all the so-called popes and cardinals from Innocent II (1130-1143) onward have been idolaters or formal heretics and thus were apostate antipopes and apostate anticardinals. Also all of the theologians and canon lawyers from 1250 onward have been apostates. …  Hence all their teachings, laws, judgments, and other acts are null and void. Therefore, all of the ecumenical councils, canon laws, and other acts from Apostate Antipope Innocent II onward are null and void.”[3]

       While Mr. Ibranyi is an extreme example, those who reject the Popes from John XXIII forward, or only Pope Francis,[4] arrive at their conclusion using the same exact reasoning: the sin of heresy, manifested by public words and acts they personally deem sufficient for them to reach their verdict, severs one from the Body of the Church and causes the loss of office.[5] Their only basis for disagreement among themselves concerning which of the Popes during the last nine centuries have been true Popes, and which have not, is that their private judgment is correct and that of their fellow Sedevacantists is not. And not surprisingly, an ever-increasing number of Sedevacantists are now rejecting Popes prior to Vatican II, due to this erroneous doctrine.[6]
       To be fair, however, we should note that not all Sedevacantists believe the sin of heresy causes the loss of papal office. This particular error was popularized by Fr. Anthony Cekada, and is fervently defended by his band of lay “internet warriors,” but is rejected by the more knowledgeable Sedes.  One Catholic author recently described those who hold Fr. Cekada’s error as being “the lowest rung of sedevacantism.  The better ones” he noted, “avoid such a ridiculous error that leads to so many absurdities.”  His statement is certainly true, even if “the better ones” are few and far between.
       Now, because Fr. Paul Kramer has begun promoting Fr. Cekada’s error, and is now using the same interpretation Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi to justify his rejection of Pope Francis, that Fr. Cekada and his followers use to reject all the Popes from John XXIII forward, we will address the quotation from Pius XII at length. We will see how embracing this “ridiculous error” has caused Fr. Kramer to change his own position repeatedly over the past 18 months, condemning the authors of True of False Pope? today for holding the same theological position he did less than two years ago. We will also address his accusation that our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi “is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world.”
       We will begin by briefly summarizing three sets of classical theological distinctions that are used to explain how the sin of heresy does, and does not, sever a person from the Church. We will then employ each of these distinctions to interpret the teaching of Pope Pius XII in accord with Tradition, exactly as we do in our book.

The Three Key Theological Distinctions

       I: Body and Soul of the Church:  If we employ the Body and Soul distinction discussed in Part I,[7] the sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Soul of the Church, since it destroys supernatural faith, while the crime of notorious heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, since it formally severs the juridical bond of “profession of the true faith.”[8] If the culprit’s heresy is not deemed to be notorious by fact, however, he must be formally judged and declared a heretic by the Church (rendering him notorious by law) before he is legally separated from the Body of the Church.

II: Dispositive vs. Formal Separation: This distinction explains different ways of understanding how heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, without considering a separate unity with the Soul of the Church. According to this explanation, the sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, but not formally. The formal separation from the Body of the Church occurs when the juridical bond is severed by the public act (crime) of notorious heresy (notorious by fact), or when the crime has been judged and declared by the Church (notorious by law).

III: Quoad Se and Quoad Nos:  A third way to explain the same truth is by employing the classical Thomistic distinction between quoad se (of itself) and quoad nos (in relation to us). According to this explanation, a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy, even if it is only internal, ceases to be a Catholic quoad se (of himself), while the crime of notorious heresy causes the culprit to cease being a member of the Church quoad nos (in relation to us). Another way to think of it is that a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy (and loses the Faith) is severed from the Church in God’s eyes, yet remains a legal member of the Church “according to us,” as long as the juridical bond has not been formally severed.
       With the foregoing distinctions in mind, we will now address the quotation from Pius XII that Fr. Kramer and his Sedevacantist friends use to justify the “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” theory:

Fr. Kramer: “The doctrine that the sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself … is taught plainly and explicitly in Mystici Corporis [which says]:

‘Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.” and “For not every sin (admissum) however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy’.”[9]

       The first thing to note is that Pius XII is not addressing how, or what is required, for a Pope who falls into heresy to lose his office/jurisdiction. That is not what is being discussed, nor is the subject touched upon anywhere in the encyclical. How a heretical bishop or Pope loses his office, and how heresy separates a Catholic from the Church, are two separates questions, and each question has different distinctions that apply (the loss of office due to heresy will be addressed in Part III). Pius XII is simply repeating the centuries-old teaching that heresy, schism and apostasy sever a person from the Church of their nature, whereas other sins do not. The sin of murder, for example, deprives a Catholic of sanctifying grace and supernatural charity, but it does not sever the culprit from the Body of the Church (even if the he is found to be guilty of the crime), since the act, as bad as it is, does not sever a juridical bond. On the other hand, if a Catholic leaves the Church and becomes a professed atheist, or publicly joins a Protestant or Sedevacantist sect, he thereby ceases to be a member of the Body of the Church by his own act, since public apostasy, heresy and schism do sever juridical bonds which are necessary for a Catholic to retain visible union with the Church.
      Now, to address Fr. Kramer’s interpretation directly, the first thing to note is that Pius XII did not use the Latin word for sin (peccatum), when explaining what, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church. Instead, he chose the word “admissum which (as we point out in our book), is defined as: “a wrong done, a trespass, fault, crime.”[10] Admissum can be translated as sin, but it can just as easily be translated as crime.[11] But in truth, it doesn’t matter which translation of admissum is used, as long as the proper distinctions are employed when interpreting it.
       For example, if we translate admissum as “sin,” we can employ the dispositive/formal distinction and interpret the passage as meaning sin of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, while at the same time affirming that only notorious heresy severs one from the Body of the Church formally. If we employ the quoad se/quoad nos distinction, we can interpret the passage in accord with Tradition by maintaining that a Catholic who commits the sin of heresy is severed from the Body of the Church quoad se (of himself), while simultaneously affirming, along with Cardinal Billot, that “only notorious heretics are excluded from the body of the Church” quoad nos (in relation to us).  
       Finally, if we seek to interpret the teaching of Pius XII in light of the Body/Soul distinction, we can easily do so by translating admissum as “crime,” in which case the passage would read: “For not every crime, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”
       So, it doesn’t matter which translation is used, provided the proper distinctions are made when interpreting it. We should also note that Pius XII himself did not use the Body/Soul distinction in the encyclical, and therefore it is more fitting to interpret the passage using one of the other two sets distinctions, [12] most especially the dispositive/formal distinction.[13]

Addressing Fr. Kramer’s False Accusation Concerning
Our Interpretation of “Admissum

       We begin by briefly addressing Fr. Kramer’s false accusations concerning our interpretation of “admissum,” which he repeats multiple times in his book. The following is yet another example of how Fr. Kramer recklessly, if not intentionally, misrepresents our position:  

Fr. Kramer: Salza & Siscoe go to great lengths to insist that the words ‘admissa’ and ‘admissum’ mean, ‘crime(s)’, and not ‘sin(s)’.”

       Fr. Kramer’s statement is completely false. The following is all we said about admissum in the entire 700-page book: 

True or False Pope?: “It is also worth noting that the word admissum used by Pope Pius XII, which is sometimes translated as ‘sin’ or ‘offense,’ also means ‘crime.’  A crime is a public offense, not merely a sin.” 

       That’s it. A grand total of two sentences in over 700 pages. Never do we “insist” that admissum means crime, but only state that “crime” is another permissible meaning of the word. In fact, when we quote this passage of Mystici Corporis in True or False Pope?, we translate admissum as “offense,” not as “crime.” Again, this is one of countless examples of how Fr. Kramer completely misrepresents our position. He repeats a version of this same false accusation over and over again in his book, and always using it as the basis for a barrage of insults, while employing the most derogatory and inflammatory rhetoric possible.

Fr. Kramer Again Relies Upon “Excerpts”
From Sedevacantist Websites

       So, where did Fr. Kramer get the idea that we “insist” admissum must be translated as crime? You guessed it. He got it from a Sedevacantist website, and he even admits the same. In fact, it came from the same article that caused him to entirely misunderstand what we meant by the word “alone” (as in “the sin of heresy alone does not sever a person from the Church”), which then resulted in the two false accusation of heresy/straw man arguments that were discussed in Part I.
       Here is Fr. Kramer summarizing the article in question (written by a Sedevacantist layman) that he mistakenly relied on to discover our “heresies.” Notice also how he sets up the false accusation concerning “admissum” with three insults in one sentence:

Fr. Kramer: “Speray mentions that Salza/Siscoe simply repeat an older Salza error on this point: ‘The sin of heresy alone does NOT sever the person from the Body of the Church because sin is a matter of the internal forum’; and, ‘Again, Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy’ (…) The quotation Salza refers to is Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (…) Salza’s nearly gnostic distortion [1] and falsification [2] of Pius XII's teaching resorts to an esoteric understanding [3] of a plainly expressed and universally taught doctrine, that the act of heresy by its very nature separates one from the Church. He [Salza] does this by uncritically and falsely interpreting the word ‘admissum’ to strictly mean ‘crime’ as opposed to ‘sin’.

       By relying on what “Speray mentioned” on his Sedevacantist website, instead of actually reading our book for himself as any prudent person would do, Fr. Kramer ended by entirely misunderstanding our position – not only in minor points, such as our translation of admissum, but in more fundamental matters as well (i.e., the errors mentioned in Part I). We wonder if Fr. Kramer is aware that the Sedevacantist layman he relied upon rejects the new rite of ordination, and believes Kramer himself is a layman.  
       Fr. Kramer’s authority (Mr. Speray) is also amongst the ever-increasing number of Sedevacantists who reject pre-Vatican II Popes. Where Mr. Speray differs from his fellow Sedes, however, is that he doesn’t only reject the Popes whom he personally judges to have been “manifest heretics” (e.g., Popes Honorius and Alexander VI), but also rejects the legitimacy of those he believes to have been unfit for the Papacy for other reasons.  He rejects the papacy of Pope Stephen VI, for example, because he personally judges that his “mental capacity was unstable.” In Mr. Speray’s own words: 

 “There is no question that Stephen’s mental capacity was unstable. Because of his insanity, Stephen should be considered an antipope. One theologian says this isn’t a novel understanding among canonists: ‘…the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity’ (Introductio in Codicem, 1946 .D. Udalricus Beste). Who would not think Stephen was mad after the cadaver synod? … Stephen VI’s case shows that either the Church has failed to view him as insane, or that She recognized an insane pope given that he is viewed as a true pope by his successors and placed on the official papal list.”[14]

       You see, if Steven Speray thinks a Pope who lived over a thousand years ago was “unstable” (which he equates with being “insane”), his judgment of the “fact” suffices for him to declare that the man “should be considered an antipope” – even the Pope in question has always been “viewed as a true pope by his successors” and is “placed on the official papal list”! And if Mr. Speray were correct, it would not be “either” (as he wrote above) but “both”, since he believes the Church has failed to view Stephen as insane, and has recognized an insane pope as a true Pope. 
       Furthermore, the consequences of Mr. Speray’s position are far graver than he realizes, since, as the great Cardinal Billot and others teach, if the entire Church were to recognize an antipope as the true Pope, the gates of hell would have prevailed. Hence, Mr. Speray’s position is not simply that “the Church has failed” to recognize that Stephen was an antipope, but that Christ himself failed to keep His Promises.  
       What’s more, the legitimacy of an undoubted Pope falls into the category of a dogmatic fact.  This particular dogmatic fact[15] is qualified as theologically certain (one opinion) or de fide (second opinion), the denial of which is a mortal sin against the faith,[16] or heresy.[17]  This, however, does not hinder Mr. Speray from publicly denying the legitimacy of an undoubted Pope and declaring that other Catholics should do the same.  This is the person Fr. Kramer relied upon to accurately present our position, and who he quotes throughout his book!  Incredible.
       Let us now return to Mystici Corporis Christi.

Does Msgr. Van Noort Contradict Our Position?

       Next, Fr. Kramer makes the bold assertion that our interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any reputable theologian in the world, and quotes Msgr. Van Noort as his supporting evidence:


Fr. Kramer: “The Salza/Siscoe interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world. Mons. Van Noort wrote:

‘b. Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors — baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy — pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. 'For not every sin [admissum], however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy'. (Dogmatic Theology, Volume II, Christ’s Church, p. 241 - 242.)”

       Contrary to what Fr. Kramer was led to believe by reading Sedevacantist websites, what Van Noort wrote reflects our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi perfectly. The context of the quotation from Van Noort concerns what is necessary for a person to be a member of the Church (which is a point that is debated by theologians). Notice, Van Noort explicitly states that the reason public heretics are not members of the Church, is because “they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith,” (i.e., they sever the juridical bond of “profession of the same faith”).  That is precisely what we argue at length in Chapter Three of our book when treating of who can properly be considered a member of the Church!
       And the fact that Van Noort translated admissum as sin (which is likely what Fr. Kramer was referring to) in no way implies that he disagrees with our interpretation of the passage. As we have noted, we have no objection to this translation, as long as it is understood that the internal sin of heresy alone only separates a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, but not formally (or quoad se, but not quoad nos). And we can be absolutely certain that Van Noort agrees with us concerning this point, since he himself taught the exact same doctrine – and he did so the very next page!
       Here is what Msgr. Van Noort wrote one page after the quotation Fr. Kramer cited as “proof” that no theologian agrees with our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi:

 Van Noort: “Internal heresy, since it destroys that interior unity of faith from which unity of profession is born, separates from the body of the Church dispositively, but not yet formally.” (Dogmatic Theology, Volume II, Christ’s Church, p. 242.)
       Van Noort’s interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi, as well as his theology concerning how the internal sin of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church (i.e., dispositively) reflects our position perfectly! In fact, Van Noort’s three-volume set of dogmatic manuals was one of the primary theological sources we consulted when writing our chapters on ecclesiology in True or False Pope?

Does Fr. Fenton Contradict Our Position?

       Fr. Kramer then noted that Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton likewise translated admissum as sin, and then following up with this false accusation: “yet Salza [and Siscoe] blindly and obstinately insists that such an interpretation is a sedevacantist ‘abuse’ of a faulty translation of Mystici Corporis…” This is yet another false statement.  Not only have we never claimed that “sin” is a faulty translation of admissum, or a “Sedevacantist abuse,” as Fr. Kramer claims, but we actually quote the very teaching of Msgr. Fenton that Fr. Kramer is referring to, in which admissum is translated as sin (see: True or False Pope? p. 158). 
       We can be certain that Msgr. Fenton did not have the Body/Soul distinction in mind when he translated the passage, since he was opposed to this distinction, due to how it was being misused in his day.[18] We can also be certain that Msgr. Fenton did not interpret the passage in question as meaning the internal sin of heresy alone causes a loss of membership in the Body of the Church (which is the interpretation we reject in True or False Pope?), since he wrote an entire article for the American Ecclesiastical Review[19] to explain why such an interpretation is not tenable.[20] We quote portions of this article in True or False Pope? to defend our interpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi, which, needless to say, is the same as that of Msgr. Fenton (see p. 158-159). In fact, the quotation Fr. Kramer is referring to, in which Msgr. Fenton translated admissum is translated as “sin,” is taken from that very article!
       Suffice it to say that neither Msgr. Van Noort, nor Msgr. Fenton, disagree with our interpretation of Mystic Corporis Christi in the slightest. On the contrary, their ecclesiology is identical to our own.

Fr. Kramer’s Old Teaching (in 2016):
The External Act of Heresy is a Crime,
and the Crime Severs A Person From The Body Of The Church

       Something that became apparent soon after Fr. Kramer launched his public campaign against True or False Pope?, is that he repeatedly changes his position, and condemns us today for saying precisely what he himself said yesterday (we have saved the many “drafts” he has emailed to his followers during this time). The sin of heresy vs. the crime of heresy is a case in point, as we will now see.
       In one of his early attempted refutations of our position, Fr. Kramer correctly noted that the only difference between the sin of heresy and the crime of heresy is that the latter requires an external act, whereas the former does not. This is correct, and exactly what we say in our book, since even external occult heresy is a canonical crime punishable by an ipso facto excommunication (which does not have a juridical effect in the external forum). Based on his own correct explanation of the sin vs. the crime, Fr. Kramer went on to rightly say the internal sin of heresy only severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the public crime severs one from the Body of the Church. Here is Fr. Kramer in his own words:
      
Fr. Kramer: “The sin of heresy can be distinguished from the crime solely according to the circumstances or whether or not the sin was committed internally, i.e., in thought [sin], or by an external act [crime].  The internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church, because it is by the internal act of faith that one is united to the soul of the Church; but the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church … until the act of severing communion by an external act has been committed. The public heretic ceases to be in communion with the Church by the very fact of his crime.”

       Now, after Fr. Kramer embraced Fr. Cekada’s “sin of heresy causes the loss of office” he reversed his position. He now rejects what he wrote above, and even claims that the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime. We will address his new position in a moment, but before doing so let us compare what Fr. Kramer wrote above to the following quotations from our book that he now declares to be sententia hæretica (“close to heresy”):

Fr. Kramer:  Sententia hæretica [close to heresy]: ‘The sin of heresy alone does NOT sever the person from the Body of the Church because sin is a matter of the internal forum’;  and ‘the sin of heresy alone does not automatically expel one from the body of the Church’; (…) ‘The correct interpretation of Pope Pius XII’s teaching is not that he was referring to the internal sin of heresy alone, but to the public offense (the crime) of heresy, which, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church with no further censure attached to the offense.’ … Salza & Siscoe manifest a profound ignorance of Fundamental Moral Theology.”

       So, in the earlier quotation, Fr. Kramer himself said “the internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church” but “does not sever one from the body of the Church,” yet one year later he declares that the above propositions from our book (which express the exact same teaching) are “close to heresy,” and reflect “a profound ignorance of Fundamental Moral Theology” on our part!  For clarity, let’s compare the two teachings this way:

Fr. Kramer holds (in 2016): “The internal sin severs one from the soul of the Church, because it is by the internal act of faith that one is united to the soul of the Church; but the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church.”

Fr. Kramer condemns (in 2017): The sin of heresy alone does NOT ‘sever the person from the Body of the Church’ because sin is a matter of the internal forum”; and “the sin of heresy alone does not ‘automatically expel’ one from the body of the Church” (Salza/Siscoe).

       As you can see, Fr. Kramer previously said “the internal act of infidelity does not sever one from the body of the Church” (meaning the internal act is insufficient to do so, and hence an external act is also required). Now he contradicts himself by condemning the very same proposition, that “the sin of heresy alone [meaning without an external act] does not sever a person from the Body of the Church.” 
       This reversal in his position brings up another point worth commenting on. Fr. Kramer always boasts about the training he received in the Roman seminaries of the 1970s (which Traditional priests at the time declared to be “hotbeds of heresy and Modernism”[21]).  For example, he recently wrote the following to John Salza:

Fr. Kramer: “You did not study Philosophy and Theology in Rome in a pontifical university as I did, under the last generation of Angelicum Thomists, who were the luminaries of the Dominican order before Vatican II … You think Fr. ___ [a priest who is one of the most brilliant minds we know RS/JS], an SSPX graduate of the Ecône seminary is more competent than the renowned Dominican scholars, all with doctorates and some with multiple doctorates, who were my mentors at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas! You manifest yourself to be an arrogant and clownish buffoon ...”

       But if Fr. Kramer received such rigorous training from the “luminaries of the Dominican Order” in the 1970s, why has he repeatedly changed his position over the past 18 months, after embracing Sedevacantist errors? Also, why has Fr. Kramer failed to employ any of the Thomistic theological distinctions noted above that he would have surely learned from his Dominican professors in Rome? And did those Dominican luminaries teach Fr. Kramer to publicly refute theological works without first reading them, based on excerpts (the context of which is unknown), taken from the writings of Sedevacantist laymen, as he has done in our case? And, further, did those luminaries from the Dominican order teach Fr. Kramer that it is permissible for a Catholic to publicly declare the man recognized as Pope by the Church is an antipope and separate from him, if he personally believes the Pope committed the sin of heresy? Just what kind of seminary education did Fr. Kramer receive from those Dominican luminaries?
      
Fr. Kramer’s Two New Arguments

       Fr. Kramer has come up with two brand new arguments in an attempt to refute his former position. 1) He now claims that external heresy is a sin, and not a crime.  He uses this to insists that it is the sin of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, not the crime of heresy, as he previously taught. 2) And it is not just the word “crime” that he objects to, since he also declares that it is forbidden for one to hold that the internal act of heresy severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act of notorious heresy severs a person from the Body. Again, both of these new teachings are directly contrary to what he taught a mere 18 months ago. We will address both these new arguments now.

New Position #1:
Fr. Kramer Now Says the External Act of Heresy
is a Sin and Not a Crime

       In order to defend his new position that the sin of heresy, not the crime, severs a person from external union with the Body of the Church, Fr. Kramer now insists that the external act of heresy does not meet the canonical definition for the nature of a crime. As evidence for this, he cites a canon from the 1917 code (he only provided the Latin), which defines the nature of a crime as “an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction.”  He then quotes a canon from the 1983 Code that says “no one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept… is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.” He then gratuitously asserts, without explaining why, that “it does not pertain to the nature of heresy that it is ‘an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept’,” and concludes by saying “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.”
       Here is the argument in Fr. Kramer’s own words. He sent the following out via e-mail, after the publication of Part I of this series of articles, and then posted it online, as his official “refutation” of our statement that “external heresy is, by its nature, a crime.” We are including the English translation of the entire canons that Fr. Kramer only partially quoted in Latin:

“CIC 1917, Book V Part I defines "the nature of a crime": De natura delicti eiusque divisione. Can. 2195. §1. Nomine delicti, iure ecclesiastico, intelligitur externa et moraliter imputabilis legis violatio cui addita sit sanctio canonica saltem indeterminata. [A crime is an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction].

Likewise, in the 1983 Code, Canon 1321 § 1: “externa legis vel praecepti violatio”, which is “graviter imputabilis ex dolo vel ex culpa”. [No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.]

“Salza & Siscoe now claim: ‘The external act of heresy is, by its nature, a crime.’ This is patently false: The nature of a crime in ecclesiastical law is of an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept. It does not pertain to the nature of heresy that it is ‘an external and morally imputable violation of a law or precept’; and therefore, the proposition is false. The external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.

       Now, it should be obvious that there is a problem somewhere in Fr. Kramer’s reasoning, since external heresy is a crime punishable by Canon Law (Canon 2314, 1917 Code; Canon 1364.1, 1983 Code), which would not be the case if it did not meet the canonical definition for the nature of a crime. We should also note that a crime (delictum) is not limited to an offense against “merely ecclesiastical laws” (human positive law), but also includes offenses against divine law.[22]  External heresy is a violation of both ecclesiastical law and divine law.
       In his celebrated commentary on the 1917 Code, Fr. Augustine begins by explaining that “a crime in ecclesiastical law is an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction,”[23] and then, eight pages later, writes: “The Decretals enumerate quite a list of crimes subject to ecclesiastical judicature: apostasy, heresy, usury, simony, sacrilege, incest, adultery, bigamy, usurpation of ecclesiastical power, and so forth.” Thus, Fr. Augustine says the “external” (and morally imputable) act of heresy is a “crime,” while Fr. Kramer says “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.”[24]
       In fact, the very canon that Fr. Kramer cited as “proof” for his assertion that the external act of heresy does not meet the definition for the nature of a crime (canon 2195, §1) is referenced by the canonists when explaining that the external act of heresy is a crime, and that internal heresy is not. For example, in his commentary on Canon 2314, which pertains to the penalties for the crime of heresy, Fr. Augustine writes:

“The crime of apostasy, heresy, or schism must be exteriorly manifestaccording to canon 2195.1; because merely internal apostasy, heresy, or schism do not belong to the external forum and therefore are not intended here.”[25]

       So, Fr. Augustine says heresy must be external to meet the definition given for a crime provided in Canon 2195, while Fr. Kramer cites the very same Canon (in Latin only) to defend his new position that “the external act of heresy is a sin, and not a crime.” Fr. Kramer would do well to return to the teaching he learned from the luminaries of the Dominican order, and abandon his new position which is certainly “not shared by any academically qualified theologian (or canonist) in the world.”
       Before concluding this section, and to respond to the accusation of some of Fr. Kramer’s followers who insist that “Siscoe and Salza made up the distinction between a sin and a crime,”[26] we will provide the following brief explanation of the difference between a sin and a crime, given by Father Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D. of the Theological Centrum Manila. He writes: “A sin belongs to the internal forum (the forum of conscience) and refers to the relationship between a man and God,” whereas “a crime belongs to the external forum and refers to the relationship between a faithful and the ecclesial society....” He went on to repeat the well-known saying that “all crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes.”  This is what Fr. Kramer himself held a mere 18 months ago, before embracing Fr. Cekada’s “ridiculous error,” and abandoning what he was taught by the “Dominican luminaries” in the seminary.
       Also worth noting is how the sin of heresy and the crime of heresy are defined in the Filial Correction, which was signed by 62 clerics and theologians. In short, the document affirms, as we have, that the judgment of the sin of heresy pertains to the internal forum, and that the external act of heresy (the pertinacious public denial or doubt of revealed truth) is a canonical crime:

“The sin of heresy is committed by a person who possesses the theological virtue of faith, but then freely and knowingly chooses to disbelieve or doubt a truth of the Catholic faith. Such a person sins mortally and loses eternal life. The judgment of the Church upon the personal sin of heresy is exercised only by a priest in the sacrament of penance.” (Cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:18; Jn. 20:23; Rom. 14:4; Gal. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; Jude 3-6; Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, DH 1351; Council of Trent, Session 14, can. 9.)

“The canonical crime of heresy is committed when a Catholic a) publicly doubts or denies one or more truths of the Catholic faith, or publicly refuses to give assent to one or more truths of the Catholic faith, but does not doubt or deny all these truths or deny the existence of Christian revelation, and b) is pertinacious in this denial. Pertinacity consists in the person in question continuing to publicly doubt or deny one or more truths of the Catholic faith after having been warned by competent ecclesiastical authority that his doubt or denial is a rejection of a truth of the faith, and that this doubt or denial must be renounced and the truth in question must be publicly affirmed as divinely revealed by the person being warned.” (Cf. Matt. 18:17; Tit. 3:10-11; Pius X, Lamentabili sane, 7; John Paul II, Code of Canon Law, 751, 1364; Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, 1436)

      We will discuss the role of ecclesiastical warnings in Part III.

Fr. Kramer Explicitly Condemns
His Very Own Words!

       Now, since Fr. Kramer’s new argument is clearly contrary to what he wrote a mere 18 months ago, and because Fr. Kramer always denies contradicting himself when the contradiction is pointed out, we decided to respond to the e-mail in which he sent out the above argument, by quoting his own words, without telling him the words were his own. How did he respond? Did he recognize his own writing style, as we suspected would happen, or perhaps see the truth in his former position when it was presented to him as he himself formulated it? Nope. Instead, he responded by declaring his own previous teaching to be “incredibly ignorant” and “patently and absurdly false.” Here is his reply (the underlined words are his own):

Fr. Kramer: “You ignorant rants have descended to the level of lunacy: The external act of heresy is in its nature a sin, but is not in its nature a crime. … The specific nature of heresy (as I pointed out in my book) is identically defined in Moral Theology as a sin, and in Canon Law as a crime (i.e. “the pertinacious denial or doubt of a revealed truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith”).  Thus, the nature of heresy is the same for the internal sin, the external sin, and the crimeYour incredibly ignorant statement that, ‘The sin of heresy can be distinguished from the crime solely according to the circumstances of whether or not the sin was committed internally’ is patently and absurdly false. … you only succeed in manifesting your utter incompetence and your profound ignorance of the subject matter.

       We suspect that “the luminaries of the Dominican Order” would disagree with their former student’s harsh criticism of his previous position, but would likely not object if phrases such as “incredibly ignorant” and “patently and absurdly false” were used to describe Fr. Kramer’s new position – i.e., “that external heresy is a sin, and not a crime”.

New Position #2
Fr. Kramer Now Says the Nature of the Act of
Internal and External Heresy is the Same

       Fr. Kramer also now claims that it is forbidden to maintain that the internal act of heresy, of its nature, only severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act, of its nature, severs one from the Body. This is the reasoning Fr. Kramer gives for this new position:

A)    He begins by noting that Pius XII teaches that the nature of heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church.
B)     He then states that the internal act and external act of heresy are of the same nature. His “proof” for this assertion is that the definition for the sin of heresy (in Moral Theology), and the crime of heresy (in Canon Law), are the same.
C)    Now, since it is the nature of heresy severs a person from the Body Church, and because (as he believes) the internal act and external act of heresy are of the same nature, Fr. Kramer concludes that it is forbidden to say (as he did 18 months ago) that the internal act of heresy, of its nature, severs a person from the Soul of the Church, while the external act, of its nature, severs one from the Body.

       The following is the new argument in Fr. Kramer’s own words:

Fr. Kramer: “Salza's error …[is this]:  ‘Separation from the Soul of the Church is intrinsic to the nature of the internal act of heresy, and separation from the Body of the Church is intrinsic to the nature of the external act of [notorious] heresy, even if external heresy were not a crime in canon law.’

The false premise on which [Salza’s] proposition is based is that the internal act and the external act are each of a different nature … However, the nature of both is one and the same. … It is for this reason that Pius XII does not qualify his teaching by saying that only the external acts of heresy, schism, and apostasy by their very nature separate a man from the Body of the Church … The specific nature of the internal act, the occult external act, and the public act of heresy is identical, and is expressed in the definition of heresy [given in Moral Theology and Canon Law]: the ‘pertinacious denial or doubt of a revealed truth that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith’. The qualitative accidental cirumstance [sic] of the act being internal or external is therefore extrinsic to the specific nature of the act of heresy.” (…) “The specific nature of the sin of heresy and that of what is properly defined as notorious heresy are one and the same nature: they are both of the same species of heresy.

       We respond, firstly, by noting that the definition of heresy, as such, may be defined the same for the sin of heresy in Moral Theology and for the crime of heresy in Canon Law, but the definition of the nature of the act that qualifies as a sin, and the nature of the act that qualifies as a crime, are not the same, since, as we have seen, an internal act alone suffices for the sin, whereas “an external and morally imputable” act is required to meet the definition of the nature of a crime (Canon 2195.1, 1917 Code). This is why Fr. Kramer’s reference to the definition of heresy from Moral Theology and Canon Law does not support his position.
       Second, since Fr. Kramer attempted to defend his position using Thomistic metaphysics (i.e., “qualitative accidental circumstances”, “species”), we will refute his argument in like manner by noting that an internal act and an external act are two different physical acts, with two different objects,[27] proceeding from two different principles. As St. Thomas explains:

“The principle of the interior act is the interior apprehensive or appetitive power of the soul; whereas the principle of the external action is the power that accomplishes the movement. Now where the principles of action are different, the actions themselves are different.”[28]

       To illustrate this point, the interior act of faith is to believe;[29] the external act is to confess the faith.[30] The interior act of heresy is to disbelieve (or refuse to assent); the external act is to deny (or to express a doubt about) the faith. 
       Now, while it is true that interior and exterior acts combine to form one thing in the moral order, and that the combined acts are of the same moral species (since an act derives its species for its formal object), the natural genus of the internal act alone is distinct from the natural genus of the two acts when combined. This latter point is what refutes Fr. Kramer’s error, as we will now see.
       A true luminary of the Dominican Order, Cardinal Thomas Cajetan - whose brilliance Fr. Kramer’s former seminary professors would have no doubt attested to, and whose authority they would have readily acknowledged - explains that the reason interior acts and exterior acts are distinct, according to their nature, is because an external act can, of its nature, be judged by man (“man seeth the things that appear…”), whereas an interior act, of its nature, can only be judged by God (“…but God beholdeth the heart”[31]). The difference between the nature of the respective acts (spiritual vs. sensible) is what results in the acts themselves being of a different genus. The Master of the Dominican Order goes on to explain that the difference in the genus is why heresy hidden in the heart does not incur the censure of excommunication, whereas an external act of heresy does, even if the external act has no witnesses. He writes:

“[I]f anyone falls into heresy internally and, being alone, expresses that heresy to himself with spoken words in the merest whisper, he is excommunicated, even though it is entirely hidden, because the act of speaking it aloud itself subjects him to human judgment, as such, even though the act lacks witnesses.  (…) internal acts are not judged according to their nature as purely internal, but rather in so far as they are cases of external commission … Many have erred in this matter due to ignorance of this distinctionPurely internal acts are in the genus of things hidden by their natures, because they are unknowable to human knowledge of their own nature. External acts are of the genus of things … accessible to human knowledge.”[32]

       As we can see, the difference between the internal act and external act of heresy is not due to “qualitative accidental circumstance,” but is found in the very nature of the respective acts, which are distinct in their genus. The interior sin “refers to the relationship between man and God” (Fr. Achacoso) and is judged “only by a priest in the sacrament of penance” (Filial Correction), while the exterior act concerns the relationship between a baptized person and “the ecclesial society” of the Church (Fr. Achacoso). Because of the natural genus of the act, “the sin of heresy alone” neither incurs the censure of excommunication, nor does it formally sever a person from external union with the Body of the Church – just as we says in Chapter Three of True or False Pope?.
       The distinction between the genus of the respective acts reveals the error in Fr. Kramer’s second new argument, and Fr. Kramer’s error confirms what Cajetan himself said – namely, that “many have erred … due to ignorance of this distinction.”
       In Part III, we will begin our discussion on papal heresy and what is required for a heretical prelate to lose his office. As noted previously, the question of how heresy severs a person from the Church (which is what has been addressed thus far in Parts I and II), is a different question from how a heretical bishop or Pope loses his office/jurisdiction. A failure to make the proper distinctions, or attempting to answer the latter question with a distinction that applies to the former, is at the heart of Fr. Kramer’s and his Sedevacantist friends’ error.  Part III will include arguments and recently translated material from Bellarmine that most people have never seen, which further demonstrate why the Sedevacantist position – and the position of Fr Kramer - is false.






[1] They will then “prove” he’s not the Pope by saying “Bellarmine teaches that a Pope who is a manifest heretic automatically ceases to be Pope,” as if 1) Bellarmine’s opinion is infallible, and 2) their personal judgment that he is guilty of the sin of heresy means he meets Bellarmine’s definition of a “manifest heretic” (which is not the case with any of the recent popes, as we will see in Part III).
[2]  https://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/E033_Sedevantism01.htm
[3] Richard Ibranyi, “No Popes or Cardinals since 1130,” January 2014. 
[4] There are some, such as Fr. Kramer, who claim Benedict XVI is the legitimate Pope, and use the Sedevacantist errors in an attempt to “prove” that Pope Francis is not.
[5] For now, and as noted below, we put aside their other error which equates being severed from the Body of the Church with the loss of ecclesiastical office/jurisdiction (this contention – which is a key error of Fr. Paul Kramer – will be addressed in the next installment).
[6] One example is a new sect calling itself Our Lady’s Resistance, who rejects all the Popes since Leo XIII.
[7] The Body/Soul distinction is used by Pope St. Pius X, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Baltimore Catechism, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, Wilhelm and Scannel, and many other authorities.
[8] Note that it is the external act of notorious heresy, by its nature, that severs one from the Body of the Church. This means the separation from visible communion (the Body) is intrinsic to the nature of the act itself (i.e. public renunciation of the “profession of the faith”), without regard to positive law (which is extrinsic to the act), because the external bonds of the Church are part of the Church’s divine constitution.
[9] "Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmod i est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet."
[10] Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary
[11] To understand why Pius XII would have used the word admissum, which can mean an interior sin or public crime, it is necessary to mention a debate that has divided theologians for centuries. The debate concerns whether the interior virtue of faith is necessary for a person to be considered as a true member of the Church, or if only the external juridical bonds are necessary, as is taught by Bellarmine, Fenton, Van Noort, and many more.  Now, since the interior sin of heresy destroys the virtue of faith, if Pius XII had used a word that referred exclusively to the sin of heresy, or exclusively to the crime of notorious heresy, it would have likely been viewed as him giving his judgment on which of the two opinions is correct, and you can rest assured that those who held the opinion he favored would have exploited it. If Pius XII did not intend to render a judgment concerning this debate – and it is certain that he did not intend to do so since he didn’t directly address it - all that was required for him to avoid the appearance of doing so, was to use a neutral word that did not support either opinion - which is precisely what the word admissum does. Pius XII’s word choice certainly reveals his brilliance and theological astuteness concerning the surrounding debate.
[12] The Body/Soul distinction is unique in the sense that it refers to a union with the Soul of the Church, distinct from a union with the Body of the Church, whereas the other two sets of distinctions do not. 
[13] This distinction is most commonly used to explain how heresy severs a person from the Body of the Church, and therefore most corresponds exactly to the terminology used by Pius XII used.
[14] Steve Speray, Papal Anomalies and Their Implications, Second ed. pp. 71-72.
[15] The infallibility of canonization is sometimes included in the category of dogmatic facts, but it only qualified as the “common opinion,” and the common opinion is not binding on the faithful, as are teachings that are qualified as theologically certain or de fide.
[16] "On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them" by Fr. Sixtus Cartechini.
[17] This was the opinion of John of St. Thomas and Suarez, and remains a common opinion today.  See, the Original Catholic Encyclopedia article on Dogmatic facts.  
[18] Msgr. Fenton wrote numerous articles for the American Ecclesiastical Review to combat various errors that a misunderstanding of the Body/Soul distinction had caused during his day.
[19] Status of St. Robert Bellarmine’s Teaching About The Membership of Occult Heretics In the Catholic Church, Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol CXXII, No. 3, March 1950.
[20] Msgr. Fenton’s article was written in response to an article by Francis X. Lawlor, S.J., titled Occult Heresy and Membership in the Church which attempted to interpret the teaching of Pius XII as meaning occult heretics ceased to be members of the Church. (Occult Heresy and Membership in the Church, Theological Studies, X, 4, Dec. 1949, 553).
[21] “The State of Seminaries Today,” Fr. Terry Marks, The Angelus Magazine, July, 1985.
[22] Delictum is taken from the word delinquere (de and linquere, to forsake, to leave, to omit) and means an offence in the general sense. However, by common usage the term is restricted to a public offence or crime against the juridical order or law. Therefore it is called a transgression of the law, whether divine or human, i.e., merely ecclesiastical. … the transgression which the ecclesiastical law considers is not merely the guilty mind (mens rea) … it is essential to the notion of a delictum that it be an external act…” ~ Fr. Augustine, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, (London: Herder Book Co., 1918) p. 11.
[23] Ibid. p. 10
[24] Ibid. p. 18
[25] Ibid. p. 278
[26] It has been pointed out to us that people have begun making this assertion on internet forums and in comment sections below articles.
[27] St. Thomas: “Now, in a voluntary action, there is a twofold action, viz., the interior action of the will, and the external action: and each of these actions has its object. The end is properly the object of the interior act of the will: while the object of the external action is that on which the action is brought to bear. Therefore just as the external action takes its species from the object on which it bears: so the interior act of the will takes its species from the end, as from its own proper object. … the species of a human act is considered formally with regard to the end [interior act], but materially with regard to the object of the external action [external act].” (ST I-II, q. 18, a. 6).
[28] This is taken from an objection. However, St. Thomas does not disagree with the point that is made, but only states that the argument does not pertain to the issue being addressed. Here is his reply: “This argument proves that the internal and external actions are different in the physical order: yet distinct as they are in that respect, they combine to form one thing in the moral order, as stated above” (St. Thomas I-II, q. 20, a. 3, ad 1).
[29] St. Thomas I-II, q. 2, a. 1.
[30] St. Thomas I-II, q. 3, a. 1.
[31] 1 Kings (I Samuel) 16:17
[32] Cajetan, De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, ch. XIX

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