Sunday, January 17, 2016

True or False Pope
CLICK image to purchase
(Taken From:  Several months ago, John Salza and Robert Siscoe were kind enough to provide me with a preview taken from their new book, True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors.(NB: This book provides an outstanding treatment of numerous “modern errors,” each of which are of great importance for us to comprehend at this time of crisis in the Church.)
Knowing both men, I wasn’t surprised to find that the text was well written; with copious footnotes and outstanding references. I was most impressed, however, with the balance they were able to strike in treating topics of great depth thoroughly, but in a way that is truly approachable.
In any case, I’m very pleased (and honored) to provide here an extensive interview with Mr. Salza and Mr. Siscoe about their new book. I can assure you, it’s well worth the read, and their book, even more so.
Interview with John Salza and Robert Siscoe about their new book, True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors
 Question: What motivated you to write the book?
Salza/Siscoe: We’ve both written articles against the errors of Sedevacantism over the years, but, due to the extent and depth of the errors within the movement, a more thorough treatment was necessary.
Question: What led you to addressing this topic in the first place?
Salza/Siscoe: At one time, we ourselves wondered if the Sedevacantist thesis was a possible explanation for the current crisis in the Church. When we each began investigating the position about 10 years ago, it was not initially to refute it, but to see if it was true. It was our research into the movement that demonstrated all of the errors and contradictions that are so pervasive in the writings of the Sedevacantist apologists. What those who have embraced the Sedevacantist position in good faith based on these writings don’t realize, is that they have been led into the error by partial quotations (which are often misunderstood), bad theology, and unscrupulous Sedevacantist apologists who, unfortunately, seem more concerned with “proving” their position than they are with the truth. Let’s face it, most people don’t have the time to do extensive research into the topic, to look up relevant original quotations from dependable sources (some of which are in Latin) and to verify that they have been given the full translation, in the correct context.
Question: Beyond the amount of research that was required to write this book, what were your greatest challenges?
Salza/Siscoe: One of the problems one encounters when writing about Sedevacantism is that the various Sedevacantist groups are divided amongst themselves over the issues. Due to the division within the movement, it is impossible to address all the arguments in a single article. Furthermore, each group has multiple arguments used to defend their position. When one argument is refuted, they simply appeal to a different argument, which is the same tactic one encounters when responding to the arguments of the Protestants. Some of the arguments presented by the Sedevacantists might appear good on the surface, but as you dig just below the surface, the errors and contradictions are quickly discovered. It is these errors, just below the surface, that results in all of the division and infighting within the movement. The more we examined the Sedevacantist thesis, the more clear it became that a thorough refutation of the position, and the fallacious and contradictory arguments used to defend it, was long overdue.
Question: Since there are various Sedevacantist camps with so many differing opinions, what approach did you take in addressing all of the arguments?
Siscoe/Salza: We began each chapter by laying a solid doctrinal foundation for the issue at hand, citing Popes, Doctors, saints and some of the Sedevacantists’ favorite theologians. Once a solid groundwork was laid, and the correct doctrine of the Church clearly presented, we then quoted the Sedevacantist apologists directly, named them personally, and then demonstrate how their errors depart from the correct doctrine that was just demonstrated at the beginning of the chapter. This is how we generally proceed. The chapters on the Church’s ecclesiology are particularly foundational for understanding the errors of Sedevacantism, which are directly refuted in the chapters that follow. These chapters provide much light and clarity that will assist those who are trying to make sense of what is happening in the Church.
Question: Can you mention some of the disagreements and contradictions within the movement?
Siscoe/Salza: We find disagreements and contradictions over the most basic question of all – namely, how a heretical Pope loses his office. There are multiple opinions and various camps, or sects, within Sedevacantism over this question. For example, one very well-known Sedevacantist priest claims that a Pope who commits the sin of heresy – a violation against Divine law – automatically loses his office. Another well-known Sedevacantist lay apologist, who has his own band of followers, publicly disagrees with the priest over this question. Instead, he holds to the position that a Pope would only lose his office if he were guilty of the public crime of heresy (which is actually correct). Where the latter individual errs is in not realizing that the crime of heresy would have to be established by the public judgment of the Church, not “discerned” by the private judgment of individual laymen in the pew. A well-known Sedevacantist bishop (who has evidently studied the subject in greater depth than his two colleagues mentioned above) realizes that a Pope would only lose his office if he were guilty of the crime of heresy (not merely the sin of heresy); and, believe it or not, he also acknowledges that the crime would have to be established by the Church, and preceded by two ecclesiastical warnings (which is also correct). Prior to the declaration of heresy by the Church, this bishop concedes that a heretical Pope (or bishop) would legally retain his office.
Question: But how can this bishop be a Sedevacantist if none of the recent Popes have been warned or declared heretics by the Church?
Salza/Siscoe: Very good question. This bishop is a different kind of Sedevacantist. He holds to the completely novel theory that a Pope or bishop can legally hold office, yet not possess the authority of the office he legally holds. He claims that if a prelate is guilty of heresy (judged, of course, by private judgment), his heresy prevents him from receiving jurisdiction (a power of those who legally hold offices in the Church). According to this theory, the recent Popes were validly and legally elected and remain legal occupants of the papal office, but, due to their alleged heresies, they did not receive papal jurisdiction (i.e., God did not unite the man – the “matter” – to the pontificate – the “form”). In other words, he claims that while the Church determines who legally holds office, private individuals can decide for themselves which legal occupants possess jurisdiction. This branch of Sedevacantism claims that the recent Popes are only “material Popes” rather than “formal Popes.” This bishop and his band of followers believe that the Pope and all of the bishops of the world, currently in charge of the episcopal sees, legally hold office, but all of them – every single one – lacks the authority of the office they legally hold.
Question: Can you pinpoint the specific error of this thesis?
Siscoe/Salza: The first problem is that it is based upon the private judgment of the Sedevacantist and not the public judgment of the Church. And note that this private judgment – that the Pope and every single bishop is a heretic – is being made by those (this Sedevacantist bishop and his followers) who couldn’t even name a small fraction of the bishops without looking them up, much less do they know what they believe about Catholic doctrine. In other words, their claim that every bishop is a heretic is a rash judgment, which is forbidden. Second, the position is founded upon the erroneous belief that there is a metaphysical incompatibility between undeclared heresy and jurisdiction. The Church has never taught this. It is a pure novelty (and novelty has always been considered a sure sign of heresy). In fact, the position that there is a metaphysical incompatibility between undeclared heresy and jurisdiction is directly contradicted by a number of authorities that we cite in the book, most notably the explicit teaching of Pope Alexander III. Jurisdiction is not like the state of grace, which is automatically lost when a person commits a mortal sin. There is a metaphysical incompatibility between grace and mortal sin, but no such incompatibility between undeclared heresy and jurisdiction – at least not for one who legally holds office in the Church.
Question: If this Sedevacantist bishop claims that the Pope legally holds the papal office, what does he say about those who attend an “una cum” Mass (a Mass in which the Pope’s name is mentioned).
Salza/Siscoe: That’s another great question. We address this in the book, and it really demonstrates the absurdity of the position he and his followers hold. This bishop claims that it is absolutely forbidden to attend a Traditional Mass in which the legal Pope’s name is included in the canon. He actually claims that doing so is an act of false worship, which is an objective mortal sin against the First commandment. Think about that for a minute: he concedes that the recent Popes have all been legal occupants of the papacy (since they were legally elected and never declared heretics by the Church’s authority), yet he claims it is forbidden – an act of false worship – to attend a Mass in which their name – the name of the legal Pope! – is included in the canon.
And the absurdity doesn’t stop there. This bishop publicly promotes what he calls the “definitive article” on the subject of the “una cum” Mass, written by a Sedevacantist priest (the one mentioned earlier), who happens to disagree with the bishop’s theory (this priest believes a Pope loses his office due to the “sin” of heresy and that the conciliar Popes are not legal Popes). In the so-called “definitive article,” the priest actually claims that if a person attends a Mass in which the Pope’s name is included in the canon, he will receive no sacramental grace. He and his followers claim that the only way you will fulfill your Sunday obligation and receive grace from the Mass, is by attending a Mass that excludes the legal Pope’s name. Needless to say, they cite no authorities whatsoever to support the absurd position. We can only imagine how these clerics browbeat their congregations with such nonsense. This Sedevacantist bishop and priest will no doubt be surprised to learn that an ecumenical council of the Church explicitly condemned the practice of excluding their Patriarch’s name (or Pope if the Patriarch of the West) from the Church’s liturgies before a formal judgment by the Church.
It is quite surprising when one considers the horrible arguments that these Sedevacantist prelates, and their lay supporters, have gotten away with over the years. In the book, we call them out on their fallacious arguments. These same individuals have used equally bad arguments in an attempt to refute previous articles we (and others) have written against the Sedevacantist thesis. In the book, we also address their attempted refutations of our previous articles. The readers will see just how fallacious and far-fetched their attempted refutations have been. Many will also be surprised to see the dishonest tactics that are used by these Sedevacantist apologists to defend their position.
Question: Can you give some examples of the dishonest tactics you’ve encountered?
Salza/Siscoe: What we discovered in our research is that the Sedevacantist apologists repeatedly remove information from quotations that contradict their position. They will sometimes cut sentences short, and sometimes eliminate entire sections. What happens next is that other Sedevacantists (who are probably sincere) will simply re-post the partial information on their own websites, without realizing that the first person removed key information. We provide many examples of these editorial tactics throughout our book, and summarize some of the more egregious examples in our last chapter, which is titled “The Bitter Fruits of Sedevacantism.” Since most of the materials they cite as “proof” for their position are translations from Latin (which most layman don’t read), the Sedevacantist priests are some of the worst culprits in removing information and citing quotations out of context. We cite one Sedevacantist bishop, for example, who removed an entire section (more than two paragraphs), and another sentence, from a long quotation – and didn’t even provide an ellipsis for his readers (three dots indicating something was removed). He just cut out the part that undermined the point he tried to make (on disciplinary infallibility) and didn’t tell anyone. And he conveniently failed to include a complete footnote with page number. Apparently, we are the first ones to have taken the time locate and verify this quotation. A Sedevacantist layman, who currently resides in France, also cut short a sentence – twice in the same article – that contained a key phrase that contradicted the main point of his article (also on infallibility). Other examples are also provided. When you run across these tactics as often as we did in our research, it becomes very difficult to believe that these Sedevacantists – who happen to be the most public and popular defenders of the movement – are being honest.
Another tactic they use is to simply dismiss authoritative quotations that contradict their position. Sometimes they will justify doing so by saying, believe it or not, that the quotation is from “the wrong theologian” (which is defined as “a theologian who disagrees with them”); or else they will find some other way to get around the quote, such as saying the quotation is dubious or inauthentic. When a certain lay Sedevacantist apologist from Australia was presented with a quotation that he couldn’t reconcile with his position, the tactic he used was to actually claim the quote was “invented.” Problem solved…or so he thought.
True or False Pope
CLICK image to read the impressive list of endorsements this book has received
Question: Did this Sedevacantist provide any evidence that the quotation was invented?
Salza/Siscoe: Not a shred. He simply asserted that it was invented by the author of a book that was published in 1904, expecting his readers to swallow his assertion whole (which most, unfortunately, do). Then, in his typical haughty fashion, this Sedevacantist apologist ridiculed the non-Sedevacantists who have cited the quotation over the years, declaring them to be “complete charlatans without the slightest affection for the moral law or truth itself.” When a priest cited this quotation in an article, this lay apologist attempted to denigrate the priest’s good name by declaring that the priest had been “deceived by fraudulent quotes which he has carelessly lifted from some place unknown.” In other words, he claimed the priest was deceived due to his own carelessness.
We mention this incident in the book and then provide multiple references to the quotation from before 1904 (when this Sedevacantist claims it was “invented”). We even include a longer version of the quote, in the original Latin, taken from a book written 200 years before the 1904 book was published. After we completed our book, we also discovered that St. Bellarmine himself (this Sedevacantist apologist’s favorite theologian) referenced this same quotation in the early seventeenth century. We will see if the lay Sedevacantist apologist from Australia offers a public apology for his public detraction against those who have cited this authentic quote. If not, one might be tempted to believe that it is the public detractor himself who lacks “the slightest affection for the moral law or truth itself.” Time will tell.
Question: Do you mention any other tactics they use to disregard authoritative quotations?
Salza/Siscoe: Yes, another tactic that they use is to declare, on their own authority, that the teaching of the theologian is heretical. One example that comes to mind (which we deal with in the book) is from the same layman from Australia, who used this very tactic to discredit a quotation from Suarez, which directly contradicts his personal opinion on how a Pope loses his office. He claims that the teaching of Suarez cannot be held because it is supposedly contrary to a teaching from the First Vatican Council, and also contrary to the teaching of St. Bellarmine. We demonstrate that he is wrong on both accounts. In fact, he will be surprised to learn that Bellarmine himself taught the same thing as Suarez. The only difference is that the teaching of Bellarmine was much more explicit than that of Suarez. But this Sedevacantist wouldn’t know that Bellarmine taught this because this particular quotation from Bellarmine has not been posted on Sedevacantist websites, where he apparently gets his information. He will find the quote in our book, along with many others that he will never find on a Sedevacantist website.
Question: To be clear, you don’t mean to suggest that everyone who holds, or attempts to defend, a Sedevacantist position is dishonest, right?
Salza/Siscoe: That’s correct. When we speak of dishonest tactics, to be clear, we are not implying that all Sedevacantists are dishonest, or that they all engage in tactics similar to those of the arrogant layman from Australia. We know that many sincere people have embraced the position in good faith as an explanation for the crisis.
Question: So am I correct in saying that you believe that those who now hold a Sedevacantist position stand to benefit as much, or more, than anyone from this book?
Salza/Siscoe: Absolutely. It is our hope that the Sedevacantists of good faith will read our book with an open mind. If they do so, they will see that the position they have embraced is not the answer to the crisis in the Church. It is, instead, a very serious error in itself, which leads directly to heresy.
Question: Can you explain how Sedevacantism leads to heresy?
Salza/Siscoe: It leads to heresy because it ends by denying essential properties of the Church. In the book, we refer to two distinct errors of Sedevacantism. The first is the simple error that that Popes since Pius XII have not been true Popes. The second error, which immediately follows the first (and sometimes precedes it), is that the entire Church, over which the recent Popes have reigned, is a false Church. To be clear, the second error doesn’t merely maintain that there is “a diabolical disorientation of the upper hierarchy,” as Sister Lucia spoke of, but a complete defection of the upper hierarchy. Not simply an infiltration and subversion of the Church (bringing about a Passion of the Church similar to that which Christ endured on Calvary), but a complete destruction of the visible Church and its replacement by an entirely New Church. This position cannot be held without denying essential attributes of the Church, especially the attributes of visibility and indefectibility.
Question: Can you elaborate on how the concept of a New Church denies the attributes of visibility and indefectibility?
Salza/Siscoe: First, regarding the term New Church, if one uses the phrase to refer to an organized body of men within the Church (a fifth column) who are seeking to bring about its destruction; or in a metaphorical sense to describe the general post-Vatican II liberal tendency – or, as Archbishop Lefebvre said, “the whole new orientation of the Church, which is no longer a Catholic orientation” – there is no problem with the term. The problem is when the term is used to mean that the entire visible Church has become a new entity – an actual, formal, New Church.
Question: But how does the idea of an entirely New Church lead to a rejection of the attributes of visibility and indefectibility?
Salza/Siscoe: There are a few reasons. First, when Catholics profess that the Church isvisible, we don’t mean that it merely has visible people, or visible rites and ceremonies. Protestant denominations also have this material visibility. When we say the Church is visible, we mean it is both materially and formally visible. The material visibility of the Church is the object of the senses; the formal visibility is the object of the intellect. Formal visibility means that the Church is a visible society – a visible social unit – that can be recognized as the true Church founded by Christ. It is recognized as being the true Church by its four marks (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic). While the Sedevacantists claim to believe in the marks of the Church, they are unable to point to any Church today that possesses all four marks. They argue that the Catholic Church of our day does not possess them, yet it is a fact (as we prove) that none of the Sedevacantist sects possess the four marks.
What this means is that, according to their own theory, there is no Church today that possesses the four marks – marks that will be with the true Church to the end of time. In fact, the only Church that even claims to possess all four marks is the Church that everyone in the world, except the Sedevacantists, identify as the Catholic Church. The inescapable conclusion of the Sedevacantist’s theory is that the gates of hell have prevailed against the visible Church, which is contrary to the promise of Christ and the attribute of indefectibility.
Second, it is important to realize that the promise of Christ, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail,” applies to the visible social unit (Pope, hierarchy, laity), and not to the individual members as such. Now, if the visible social unit had morphed into a New Church sometime following the death of Pius XII, it would mean that the gates of hell had prevailed against the Church (the visible social unit). Hence, it is not possible to hold the Sedevacantist position without denying at least one of the Church’s attributes, if not all three (visibility, indefectibility and infallibility). When you study the subject in depth, there is no escape from this conclusion. In fact, a former Sedevacantist seminarian released a book just a few months ago in which he explains that Sedevacantism logically led him to reject the indefectibility and infallibility of the Catholic Church (after which he joined a sect of the Eastern Orthodox). Indeed, the errors of Sedevacantism logically lead one right out of the true Church.
Question: If the Sedevacantists claim that the visible society and the hierarchy defected, where do they claim the Church exists today?

No comments: