He Breaches an Agreement to Stop this Ongoing Exchange
and Lies About Our Position on the Legal/Speculative Questions
Concerning the Loss of Office for a Heretical Pope
and Lies About Our Position on the Legal/Speculative Questions
Concerning the Loss of Office for a Heretical Pope
|Paul Leonard Kramer|
Even after Kramer breached the agreement (now two weeks ago), we still maintained our end by not responding to his continuous stream of lies, misrepresentations, and accusations of “heresy” for allegedly holding positions that we explicitly refute in our book. Since Kramer has, unfortunately, proven that he lacks the self-control necessary to stop spreading lies and misinformation, we will respond to his false accusations for the sake of the truth.
At the outset, we have to say that the sheer number of lies, misrepresentations, and straw man arguments that Kramer spreads via his posts is astonishing, and it would take an entire book to respond to them all. But what this shows is that the devil has changed tactics. He began his attempts to discredit us and True or False Pope? by articles and videos produced by the Sedevacantists, which contained red-herrings and other arguments that were easily refuted. This tactic having failed, the devil then began a campaign of lies, first with Fr. Cekada’s recent video (which we responded to here) and now with the veritable tsunami of lies being spread by Fr. Paul Leonard Kramer, who has shown himself to be a true “Father of Lies.”
Another point is that because Kramer has been a public critic of Sedevacantism for many years, the devil evidently imagined that he could use Kramer’s recent conversion to the errors of Sedevacantism (which he uses to justify his rejection of Francis) to deceived an entirely new group of Catholics. The devil accomplishes this by a self-proclaimed opponent of Sedevacantism, yet who spreads the very errors that lead to the Sedevacantist conclusion. For example, we see Kramer spreading the error which maintains that it is up to each individual Catholic in the pew to decide for himself if the man elected, and recognized as Pope by the Church, is guilty of the sin of heresy. If they conclude that he is, then they must also conclude that he is not the Pope. This error leads quickly to the next, namely, that they are permitted to formally separate from him, and publicly declare him to be an antipope.
Suffice it to say that not a single theologian has ever taught the laity, or individual priest, are permitted render such a judgment or make such public declarations on their own authority. Before a person can conclude that a Pope has lost his office for heresy, it requires an antecedent (prior) judgment that he has, in fact, fallen into heresy. The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared. And if the antecedent judgment is forbidden, as Kramer now argues ("a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy") how could the consequent judgment (that he lost his office for heresy) ever be determined? If the Church was not permitted to render a judgment of heresy concerning a pope, it would be equally forbidden to declare that a Pope had lost his office for heresy. This explains an why the famous axiom "the first see is judged by no one" has been understood to include the exception "unless he is accused of heresy." But only the Church possesses the authority to render such a judgment and make any consequent declarations. All of these errors Kramer is spreading have been addressed and refuted in our book – a book, mind you, that Kramer has not even read and refuses to read.
While it would take an entire book to refute all of Kramer’s lies and misrepresentations (the same tactic successfully used by the devil to have Christ put to death), we will briefly address just one, which is a perfect example of the modus operandi of Fr. Paul Leonard Kramer and his slander campaign.
We will begin by quoting Fr. Kramer, who chose to comment on a mere two sentences we wrote in a recent article. We will then cite the previous paragraph, as well as the remainder of the paragraph from which the two sentences were taken, in order prove that Kramer completely misrepresented our position. We will then quote several pages from True or False Pope? in which we address this same issue.
In the following Facebook post, Kramer refers to the “NONSENSICAL STUPIDITIES OF SISCOE & SALZA” (in all caps) for allegedly holding that the question of how the Church would deal with an heretical Pope has already been resolved.
Kramer: NONSENSICAL STUPIDITIES OF SISCOE & SALZA: “The question of the Loss of office for a heretical pope contains questions of fact and questions of law.” “The question of fact is whether the pope is, in fact, a heretic; questions of law pertain to if, when, or how, a heretical pope would ceased to be pope.” [Siscoe/Salza]
[NB: As you will see below, just because Kramer saw the words “question of law,” he immediately jumped to the false conclusion that we meant the “question of law” (regarding how a heretical Pope loses his office) have been settled by the Church! This is what he refers to as our “nonsensical stupidities.” The problem is that we never say the questions of law have been settled. On the contrary, we explicitly say the opposite, as we will show.]
COMMENT [by Kramer]: There is nothing in Canon Law that addresses the loss of office for a heretical pope. Salza & Siscoe are peddling snake oil, as usual. The question of the loss of office for a heretical pope is strictly a question of speculative theology. The Church does not provide for any remedy in Canon Law. In the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia one reads, “No canonical provisions exist regulating the authority of the College of Cardinals sede Romana impedita, ie., in case the pope became insane, or personally a heretic; in such cases it would be necessary to consult the dictates of right reason and the teachings of history.”
Now, it is obvious that in the two sentences Kramer quoted, we were simply stating the the loss of papal office for heresy concerns “questions of fact” and “questions of law”. Nowhere in those two sentences, or anywhere else, do we say the "questions of law" have been settled.
If Kramer would have paid closer attention to what he was reading, he would have realized that our underscoring the lack of definitive guidance on the deposition of a heretical Pope was the very point we were making in the paragraph (and the previous one). The reason we were spotlighting this point is because it completely destroys the dogmatic Sedevacantist position. The reason it does so is because, since the Church has not settled the “questions of law” (i.e. if, when or how a heretical Pope would lose his office), no one can treat the opinion of any theologian as being the definitive teaching of the Church, and then use the theological opinion as a certain premise to draw a certain conclusion. The fact that this is the point we were making in the two sentences Kramer cited is clear from what we wrote in the previous paragraph, and even from the remainder of the paragraph from which the two sentences were taken (which Kramer conveniently failed to cite).
The following are the two complete paragraphs:
“4) When we address a point that is disputed by theologians, such as if, when, or how a pope loses his office for heresy, we purposefully avoid taking a definitive position of our own, since 1) only the Church can settle such “questions of law,” and 2) the Church has never done so. Therefore, when it comes to if, when, or how a heretical pope loses his office, we do not take present the teaching of any theologian as being definitive and settling the matter. What we do show, however, is that none of the theologians support the Sedevacantist position, which is one of private judgment determining who is and who is not a true pope, without reference to the public judgment of the Church.
“5) The question of the loss of office for a heretical pope contains a questions of fact and questions of law. The question of fact is whether the pope is, in fact, a heretic; questions of law pertain to if, when, or how, a heretical pope would cease to be pope. Both of these issues (questions of law and fact) can only be determined by the Church. Not even Bellarmine presented his opinion regarding the “question of law” as being definitive. This is evident since he referred to the opinions he disagrees with by using phrases such as “not proven to me” (second opinion), “exceedingly improbable” (third opinion) or “to my judgment, this opinion cannot be defended” (fourth opinion). He never declared that they were all certainly wrong and that his opinion was certainly correct, since he knew full well that only the Church could settle such “questions of law” definitively, and until it does so, theologians are free to disagree.”
What we see is that Kramer cited a mere two sentences and then accused us of “peddling snake oil” for allegedly saying the exact opposite of what we were arguing. This is just one example of the constant stream of lies, misrepresentations and strawman arguments being spread across the internet by Paul Leonard Kramer.
Furthermore, we describe the questions of law concerning the deposition of a heretical Pope using the same words Fr. Kramer did, namely, by referring to them as “speculative theology” which have not been resolved by the Church! The following is taken from “True or False Pope?”:
“Clearly, these priests are guilty of doing precisely what they complained about in 1983 – namely, usurping Magisterial authority by attempting to settle definitively questions of speculative theology which have not been resolved by the Church.”
And from our article against Mario Derksen:
“Specifically, he has to meet his burden of proving that the Church invests him with the authority to establish the “fact” that the Pope is a heretic in the external forum (which is contrary to the Church’s public judgment), and resolve the speculative questions of theology and law that would govern the Pope’s fall from office (questions that have not even been resolved by the Church). Again, Derksen simply needs to show us where the Church gives him the authority to settle these questions of fact and law, and if he cannot do so, the debate is over. It’s that simple.”
To further demonstrate that Kramer’s desperate accusation is entirely false, we will cite several pages from the section of True or False Pope? in which we address thieissue of “fact” and “law” (i.e., speculative theology). The context of what follows is a refutation of an argument peddled by Mario Derksen of Novus Ordo Watch, who claims that the issue of whether a Pope has lost his office is “solely a question of fact” that anyone can make for themselves. The following is our response:
“But let us further demonstrate why one cannot look solely to the “law” or to the “facts” to resolve the complex question of whether the Pope is a manifest heretic who has lost his office. The following illustrates the “question of fact” versus “question of law” distinction:
Question of Fact – Is the Pope a manifest heretic?
Question of Law – Does a heretical Pope lose his office for heresy? (If so, when, how and who judges?)
As we have seen, St. Bellarmine said there were five different opinions about the question of law, none of which have been definitively adopted by the Magisterium. This point alone demonstrates that the issue of Sedevacantism is not “solely a question of fact,” but involves a more fundamental question of law that must be resolved first. Even if one agrees with Bellarmine’s opinion on the question of law, that is, that a manifestly heretical Pope loses his office ipso facto and not by Church deposition, the opinion has not been adopted by the Church, and there are reputable theologians who disagree with this opinion. And even assuming Bellarmine’s position on ipso facto loss of office is correct, precisely when and how the loss of office occurs, and who has the authority to judge whether it has occurred, are additional questions of law which have been extensively debated for centuries. This point further proves that the question of the loss of office for a heretical Pope is a mixed question of fact and law, and not solely “based on the order of fact.”
Sedevacantists cannot even get to first base with their “question of fact” approach until they resolve these “questions of law,” and yet resolving these complex questions are not within their power (not even the Magisterium has chosen to settle these questions). The entire Sedevacantist case, as it relates to “law,” rests upon nothing more than their own private interpretation of the opinions of certain theologians (especially that of Bellarmine, whom Sedevacantists have failed to understand), and which in no way constitutes the official teaching of the Church.
The fact that individual Catholics (even priests and bishops) have no authority to settle speculative questions of theology and law which have not been resolved by the Church was even conceded by Fr. Cekada, Bishop Sanborn, and seven of their colleagues. In 1983, these nine priests (former members of the Society of St. Pius X) wrote a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre complaining that they were not permitted to question the validity of the New Mass and the new rite of ordination. They claimed that forbidding them to do so was infringing on their liberty since, as they said, these speculative questions had not been resolved by the Church (as if approving a rite of Mass and ordination did not constitute the Church’s judgment on the matter). Here is what these nine priests wrote in their 1983 letter:
‘The present situation in the Church has generated many unprecedented problems of a theological and practical nature — for example the question of the in se [in itself] validity or invalidity of the New Mass… The Society must not presume to settle such speculative questions in an authoritative and definitive fashion, since it has absolutely no authority to do so. Any attempt by the Society to teach and impose its conclusions on matters of speculative theology as the only positions suitable for a Catholic to embrace is dangerous and opens the door to great evils, for it assumes a magisterial authority which belongs not to it but to the Church alone.
Now, while in theory the Society may deny any claim to such teaching authority, in practice it has acted as though it did have such an authority.’
At the end of the letter, these nine priests (who were soon to be expelled from the Society), added the following “resolution”:
‘Respect for the magisterial authority of the Church as the sole arbiter of theological questions shall be enforced. Therefore, the Society shall faithfully adhere to the teachings of the Church, but shall never usurp that teaching authority by attempting to settle definitively questions of speculative theology.’
So, according to the reasoning of the priests who signed this letter (most or all of whom are now Sedevacantists), the Society of St. Pius X is not permitted to insist on the validity of a Mass that was approved by the Church [when said with the correct form, matter and intention], yet the Sedevacantists themselves are permitted to settle speculative questions of theology and law regarding when and how a Pope loses his office for heresy. In fact, Fr. Cekada and Bishop Sanborn are so dogmatic about their personal opinion regarding this matter, that they not only publicly declare that the last six Popes have been antipopes, but they go further by publicly declaring that it is forbidden to attend a Mass in which the Pope’s name is mentioned in the canon (and this is the same Bishop Sanborn who concedes that the post-Vatican II Popes are legal Popes). Clearly, these priests are guilty of doing precisely what they complained about in 1983 – namely, usurping Magisterial authority “by attempting to settle definitively questions of speculative theology,” which have not been resolved by the Church. Indeed, in the Sedevacantists’ own words, their entire thesis “is dangerous and opens the door to great evils, for it assumes a magisterial authority which belongs not to it but to the Church alone.”
As we have seen, even if the question of fact (i.e., is the Pope a public and notorious heretic?) was established by the proper authorities, the question of law (exactly when and how does the Pope lose his office) remains unresolved. It is clear that the unresolved question of law, in and of itself, completely negates the Sedevacantist position, without even addressing the question of fact, which is likewise something Sedevacantists have no authority to judge.
As the reader can see, nowhere do we claim that the “questions of law” have been settled by the Church, as Kramer would have his readers believe. On the contrary, we explicitly state the exact opposite, and we do so over and over again.
Fr. Kramer’s dishonest tactic of “hit-and-run” Facebook posts may be sufficient to deceive or confuse some already confused Catholics, who are understandably scandalized by the situation in the Church, but they won’t deceive those who actually read our book and articles.