Our complex theological predicament, 2015.
If Francis and Cardinal Kasper have taught us anything over the past few years, it’s that without resurrecting that final “checkmate,” which popes from the beginning used to protect the Faith from grave errors and outright heresies (I’m referring to the Anathema*), our problems will only repeat themselves, over and again.
Even the “Vatican Enforcer” Cardinal JosephRatzinger / BenedictXVI, who I believe was, in his own way, trying to dig our way out of trouble, never showed any indication that he disagreed with John XXIII who, in introducing the Second Vatican Council, said that in the past (like St. Paul, Gal 1:7-9) the Church condemned errors
“with the greatest severity. Nowadays, however, the spouse of Cuhrist prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than of severity. She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations.”
Benedict was conservative. But he handled doctrinal errors mostly as academic problems that could be resolved through the dialectical give-and-take of academic discussion, and an occasional magisterial document—but largely without teeth. There was also in him, as in John Paul II, sometimes a confounding of personal theological opinion and the Catholic magisterial Tradition.
To Benedict’s great credit he made room for the criticisms of more traditional Catholics (some of which criticism he shared). And he even infuriated Progressives by making room in the Church again for the traditional Tridentine Latin Mass of the Saints and expressing disdain for so much that passed for liturgy today. He deplored the widespread wrecking of altars and the often bizarre new Church architecture which spread across the world after Vatican II.
He was a quiet, conservative, intellectual man with classical tastes. But he was manacled by an unwillingness to break with pope John’s “medicine of mercy” approach. To do so would have made him seem like a repudiator of the “pastoral” Council itself.
And those “Progressives” who opposed his Conservative preferences took complete advantage of that failure.
And so today we have lived to see chaos and incoherence ensue as the moral and dogmatic bedrocks of the Catholic Church have been made to tremble beneath our feet.
Our problem is hardly mercy, or new practical applications of it, when in harmony with the Catholic dogmatic Tradition.
Relativistic, dialectical and pluralistic
In the final analysis one might say that whatever their own personal preferences, even some (hardly all) Conservatives today can be, like Progressives, subjectivists (accepting opposing principles) and pluralistic theologically (few calls are heard from them for the revival of the traditional Anathema for instance). And therefore some of them (us) can be part of the problem. Many Progressives in turn, strange to say, are conservative in taste. Not all are wild or morally corrupt. Progressives too have their flanks and Parties. They even get some theological truths —which traditionalism has neglected or mistaken— right.
Benedict XVI, like John Paul II, was Conservative in some ways and yet Progressive in other ways.
Subjectivists (and all strident, pure Progressives are enthusiastic subjectivists) tolerate even truth, as long as error is also allowed its room to breathe. This is the error of Enlightenment liberalism with its worship of liberty, with which Vatican II sought to make peace. It is relativistic, dialectical and pluralistic.
The only thing that is anathema to such subjectivists is the Church’s traditional Anathema. Because that would rule them and their Enlightenment errors out quickly, if the Church’s Sacred Tradition and dogmatic patrimony is revived as the standard. Conservatives should openly deplore this fact more than they do.
Progressivism, subscribing to the Enlightenment historical-critical method of Scripture analysis (so-called, though hardly objective) teaches that dogmas naturally “evolve,” a notion that was condemned over and over by pre-conciliar Popes because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever” (Heb. 13:7). To implicitly suggest, as many modernists have done, that the Church got Our Lord wrong (and to imagine new christs in new theologies) is simple unbelief and tacit neo-Arianism, a characteristic of modern Progressivism. Some go so far as to suggest with their Liberal Protestant counterparts, that St. Paul was the first to misunderstand who Jesus is, another condemned notion.
I’ve always accepted Vatican II as a legal Council protected by the Holy Spirit against unambiguous formal heresy. Michael Davies, for instance, taught the same. But was it always wise in its human formulations? Clearly not. It is a dilution, born of a naive or pernicious strategy that sought to reconcile opposite principles under a mischievous concept labeled “pastoral”. Both traditionalists and neomodernists took part. Ambiguity then has divided the Church and plunged her into incoherence.
On his deathbed it is reported that John XXIII said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better.”
Well, I suppose he thought so. But that this thought was preemptively condemned by Vatican I (one) does not seem to have occurred to him:
“…that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother the Church has once declared. Nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.”
“Let then the intelligence, science, and wisdom of each and all, of individuals and of the whole Church, in all ages and at all times, increase and flourish in abundance and vigor; but simply in its own proper kind, that is to say, in one and the same doctrine, one and the same sense, one and the same judgment (Vincent of Lerins, Common. n, 28).”
And 50+ years later? The story is so well known it is almost unnecessary to sketch what so many have known for so long (and none of this is in any way to deny the profound influences and impact of decadent cultural trends which had been building since the Second World War):
Religious Orders have been more than decimated, the new liturgy seems to have banished much sense of the Holy, the very Sacred, which was always a main grace-filled draw for Catholics and for very many outside the Church. Homilies today are all too often anemic at best or outright heretical at worst. Mass attendance has consequently plummeted in massive numbers, to the point where in the West churches close everywhere and once vibrant parishes are forced to merge every day. And this is to say nothing of morally corrupted clergy and Religious.
Theology today at the seminary, college and university levels ranges from the relatively orthodox to the incoherent trendy, to the outright heretical. And of course this means bishops and priests inevitably reflect that confusion in the pulpits and so laypersons hardly know what to think.
It was (until the 1960’s) always understood that dogmatic truth, derived from the Apostles and Sacred Scripture (and preserved in the traditional liturgy) must at all costs be protected as *the* most sacred trust. It was and is called The Deposit of Faith.
St. Paul warned against tampering with this treasure or watering it down in any way. Nor can we make doctrinal peace with opposing principles.
Gal 1:8 “If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed (gk. “anathema”).”
There was never.any perceived opposition between the Deposit of Faith and Charity and Mercy. Which is why pope John’s “new” prescription of mercy, cited above and echoed today by the openly Progressive-friendly Francis, was at first so puzzling after 20 centuries, and today we can see so mistaken or mischievous, a pastoral strategy. I suspect the Conservatives who followed were simply bewildered and / or mistaken while not a few Progressives were knowingly mischievous.
Catholics must quit conformity with the spirit of the times, restore dogmatic and traditional moral truths based on revelation to their preeminent, indispensable honor as the touchstone of Faith, and cease bizarrely opposing charity to it. And this necessarily will involve declaring many dubious or heretical opinions in theology as incompatible with Sacred Scripture and Catholic Tradition.
Not to do this would be to guarantee only more decline and more infiltrations and to raise even more suspicions with respect to the quality of our shepherds and their commitment to the Gospel of salvation. Without the Anathema Benedict must yield to Francis(++). This is our crisis. Like political Parties, Vatican II “liberty,” if it goes unchecked, will only guarantee a bizarre succession of Liberals and Conservatives —even to emerge from Papal conclaves.
It is time to end the naive, myopic “pastoral” experiments. Progressivism is devouring the flock.
A Time of Waiting
By and large the modern Traditional Catholic manifesto or hermeneutic has almost always involved the insistence that,
“We resist only any dubious non-dogmatic formulations, but must obey them when they faithfully transmit sacred tradition.
It is a reasonable approach to the crises of our time wherein ambiguous, compromised formulations have led to outright collapse in liturgy and traditional piety.
In my opinion, it is going too far to summarily dismiss Vatican II as outright heresy or errors from first to last, a plot pure and simple, rather than (as I see it) an ill-advised (even if good intentioned and Holy Spirit-protected) Council that may have been naive and compromised in parts, an impossible mixture of tradition and neo-modernist tendencies in other parts, alongside clear affirmations of Tradition, and thus not strong and careful enough—despite all official clarifications— to check the mischievous. The presence of “Progressive” / Modernist forces, we see now, doomed a happy reception of Vatican II from the start because it sought in places an impossible truce with the Progressivist principles (see bottom note) which Popes had previously and decisively condemned as contrary to Catholic Faith.
Therefore it makes sense, especially after the spectacles during Francis’ pontificate(++), for Catholics to see ourselves in a time of waiting, waiting for the official “reconnecting” more explicitly to our traditional Deposit of Faith, liturgically, theologically, and spiritually, even if, as Benedict predicted, we must become a much smaller witness in the public squares of this world.
It is a simple fact that all Catholics who reject pernicious Progressivism in favor of Tradition are Traditional Catholics (whether certain traditionalist cliques like to think so or not). And Progressivist errors must be condemned. Officially. Again.
The best Traditional leaders and authors, including Romano Amerio, Klaus Gamber and Michael Davies aimed essentially in this direction. And it is, especially after Francis, up to us to complete it, and, most importantly, to live it. —- Stephen Hand, 2015. Updated.
(++) With respect to Pope Francis, I am speaking here only of the dangers of theological progressivism and not detracting from the good Francis has done (for example the financial reforms at the Vatican bank in a Vatican culture where traditionally the pope has “had less authority than a bishop in his diocese’). My criticism is intended to be constructive by affirming the Law of Non-Contradiction and the confusions that arise from stretching it to the breaking point.
In the Encyclical Humani Generis Pius XII declared
“It is clear how false is a procedure which would attempt to explain what is clear by means of what is obscure”. (#21)
The CLARITY of Sacred Tradition, then, trumps vagueness, ambiguity, or dubiously phrased doctrinal statements in modern theology.
Still, there can never be a new defacto “Church” alongside the only true hierarchical Church Our Lord bequeathed to mankind. As St. Augustine said,
“…no man ought to sever himself from the unity of the Church before the time of the final separation of the just and unjust, merely because of the admixture of evil men in the Church“
—-Saint Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Bk. IV, The Complete Works of Saint Augustine. Ch.12.19, (1407), emphasis supplied
— Fr. Gerald Murray: Can you criticize a pope?
Benedict XVI said: “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law.”
“This power of teaching frightens many people in and outside the Church. They wonder whether freedom of conscience is threatened or whether it is a presumption opposed to freedom of thought. It is not like this. The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve.
The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.
Pope John Paul II did this when, in front of all attempts, apparently benevolent to the human person, and in the face of erroneous interpretations of freedom, he unequivocally stressed the inviolability of the human being and of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. The freedom to kill is not true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery.
The Pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpret- ations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage.
Thus, his power is not being above, but at the service of, the Word of God. It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.”
May 7, 2005
— See also Cancelling Pope Benedict
— Archbishop Ganswein says Progressivist forces trying to destroy Benedict’s life and work
— What Did Pope Francis Say About Sinners, Baptism and the Communion of Saints?
— Is the Novus Ordo Mass valid? Does the Church have the authority to make such changes as we see in the Novus Ordo Mass?
Yes to each question, per the Council of Trent Session XXI Ch.2, 16 July 1562.
— Does this mean that the changes made in the Novus Ordo were always wise?
Clearly not. Moreover, Progressivist forces have invaded the sanctuary. The Council of Trent only guarantees the validity of the Sacrament, the substance being explicitly preserved (see Session XXI, ch.2 which follows below).
Progressivists do not really accept all that the Second Vatican Council or subsequent papal Eucharistic documents teach regarding Eucharist, liturgy, or traditional Church teaching in general. The Novus Ordo should at last be made universally to conform to what the Council actually teaches if it is to bear better fruit.
“There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them.” — The Consitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council
Why the Traditional Latin Mass?
Not because it “restores a sense of the sacred” which many are understandably nostalgic for, but because it fully and sacredly preserves, protects, teaches and recapitulates explicitly the entire unchangeable Catholic Faith at each and every Mass. And this is why it is the greatest sign which Progressivism (aka neomodernism) fears above all else: Lex orandi, lex credendi,
“the law of praying [is] the law of believing,” is the sacred motto of our Christian Faith, which means that it is our prayer which leads to traditional belief and liturgy which leads to Traditional theology.
— Thomas Storck on our moment and imperative in liturgical history
Summorum Pontificum Not Motivated by Lefebvre Schism
Benedict XVI: “The reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass is often interpreted primarily as a concession to the Society of Saint Pius X. This is just absolutely false! It was important for me that the Church is one with herself inwardly, with her own past; that what was previously holy to her is not somehow wrong now” [Last Testament in His Own Words, Ignatius Press, 2017, pp. 201-202.
In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger [Benedict XVI] had stated:
“Personally, I was from the beginning in favour of the freedom to continue using the old Missal, for a very simple reason: people were already beginning to talk about making a break with the pre-conciliar Church, and of developing various models of Church—a preconciliar and obsolete type of Church, and a new and conciliar type of Church. This is at any rate nowadays the slogan of the Lefebvrists, insisting that there are two Churches, and for them the great rupture becomes visible in the existence of two Missals, which are said to be irreconcilable with each other. It seems to me essential, the basic step, to recognize that both Missals are Missals of the Church, and belong to the Church which remains the same as ever” (Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy, pp. 148-9, emphasis added).
— (1) Cf. The Charitable Anathema, by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Roman Catholic Books, Harrison, NY, (c) Alice von Hildebrand, 1993
The Council of Trent. Session XXI Ch.2; 16 July 1562
“This holy council instructed by the Holy Ghost, who is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and godliness, and following the judgment and custom of the Church, declares….
The power of the Church as regards the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
It furthermore declares, that this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain, or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places.
And this the Apostle seems not obscurely to have intimated, when he says; Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.
And indeed it is sufficiently manifest that he himself exercised this power,- as in many other things, so in regard of this very sacrament; when, after having ordained certain things touching the use thereof, he says; “The rest I will set in order when I come.”
Wherefore, holy Mother Church, knowing this her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although the use of both species has,- from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been unfrequent, yet, in progress of time, that custom having been already very widely changed,- she, induced by weighty and just reasons,- has approved of this custom of communicating under one(o) species, (p) and decreed that it was to be held as a law; which it is not lawful to reprobate, or to change at plea sure, without the authority of the Church itself.”
Session XXI Ch.2; 16 July 1562
++ The aim in placing this essay is entirely to solicit prayers for Pope Francis, for ourselves, and for the whole Church. The Catholic principle is clear:
“Although it clearly follows from the circumstances that the Pope can err at times, and command things which must not be done, that we are not to be simply obedient to him in all things, that does not show that he must not be obeyed by all when his commands are good.
“To know in what cases he is to be obeyed and in what not, it is said in the Acts of the Apostles: ‘One ought to obey God rather than man’; therefore, were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in *such* commands, to be passed over.”
(Summa de Ecclesia, Juan Cardinal De Torquemada — 1388 – 26 September 1468, emphasis mine)
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Chap. 29: “Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff who attacks the body, so also is it licit to resist him who attacks souls or destroys the civil order or above all, tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. It is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or to depose him.”
“The Second Vatican Council did not issue laws, and it did not even deliberate definitively on questions of faith and morals. The lack of dogmatic definitions inevitably started a discussion about the nature of its documents and about how to apply them in the so-called ‘postconciliar period. Professor de Mattei outlines the two main schools of thought in that discussion. The first and more theological approach presupposes an “uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition” and therefore expects the documents of Vatican II to be interpreted in a way consistent with authoritative Church teaching in the past. This is the “hermeneutic of continuity” emphasized by Pope Benedict XVI.
A second, more historical approach advocated by Professor Giuseppe Alberigo and the “School of Bologna” maintains that the Council “was in the first place an historical ‘event’ which, as such, meant an undeniable discontinuity with the past: it raised hopes, started polemics and debates, and in the final analysis inaugurated a new era.” The “event-dimension” of the Council is Exhibit A in making the case for the elusive “spirit of Vatican II” that looks beyond the actual words of the conciliar documents to the momentum that they supposedly generated.”
— Michael J Miller review Roberto de Mattei History’s View of Vatican II
No ‘Modern Man’
“We wish to state emphatically there is no closed homogeneous epoch in history; there is no ‘modern man’ [in any ontological sense –SH]. And most important of all, man always stays the same in his essential structure, in his destiny, in his potentialities, in his desires and in his moral dangers, and this is true notwithstanding all the changes that take place in the external conditions of his life.
There is and has been but one historical change in the metaphysical and moral situation of man, the Advent of Christ and the salvation and reconciliation with God through Christ’s death on the Cross”.
—Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Trojan Horse in the City of God.
Historicizing of Texts
According to the new “historicism” method, “old” teachings are dismissed by being “situated” in their allegedly obsolete “historical contexts” in order to posit a substantially new doctrine with a new sense and meaning. But this method devours itself immediately, even if its proponents do not always fully realize it: new “truth,” as the neo-modernists conceive it, is always morphed into Process and shatters upon utterance, because it too is of necessity situated in a particular historical context which is always disappearing and being replaced by even newer conceptions and interpretations.
The Progressivist view of “evolving truth,” which the Councils and pre-Vatican II Popes condemned, being contrary to what the Church has always taught, is thus always unstable and likewise vanishing into obsolete “historical contexts,” by their own methods.
“John Henry Newman … was pleased with the moderate tone of the actual definition [of the First Vatican Council], which “affirmed the pope’s infallibility only within a strictly limited province: the doctrine of faith and morals initially given to the apostolic Church and handed down in Scripture and tradition.”
— “Theological Studies – A journal of academic theology” (PDF). Ts.mu.edu. 2016-11-30.
“Next to Holy Writ no single text in existence has anything like the value of the Roman Rite” — Abbe Charles Grimaud, ‘My’ Mass, forward
“In the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas always presented objections (“videtur quod”) and counterarguments (“sed contra”). St. Thomas was intellectually very honest; you have to allow for objections. We should use his method on some of the controversial points of Vatican II’s texts that have been under discussion for almost sixty years.” — from “Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age” by Bishop Athanasius Schneider.
St. Thomas Aquinas on Superior / Inferior Rules of Faith
“…as man ought to obey an inferior power in only those things which are not repugnant to a superior power, so also man ought to conform himself to the primary rule [God and his revelation] according to his mode. Man ought to conform himself to the secondary rule [magisterium] in those things which are not discordant from the primary rule. That in which it is discordant is no longer a rule and because of this he ought not assent to a prelate preaching contrary to the faith since it is discordant with the primary rule.”
[Sent., d.25, q.2,a 1d, ad3]
Cardinal Billot in “De Immuabilitate Traditionis,” p.26, affirms that “Tradition is the rule of faith,” as did St. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century in his “Commonitorium” where he summarizes that Rule as that (2.6):
“… which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic,” which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent.”
Thus when any theological formulation either conflicts with Tradition, or itself, or is impossibly ambiguous the Superior power [Sacred Tradition] provides the decisive clarification.
“For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles.” — Vatican I (one), Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ #20
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Foundation of the Catholic Faith, we know. And it is the unchangeable Deposit of Faith(1), passed on to all generations as Sacred Tradition by the Apostles, which ensures we perceive Christ correctly. He.13:8; Gal. 1:7, 8.
A magisterial formulation is helpful or not depending on whether it faithfully and clearly transmits that Deposit of Faith to every generation until the end of time (Matt 28:20)
Progressivism on the contrary, teaches not faithful development but the “evolution of dogma” (from the traditional “meaning and sense” to other and contradictory meanings) and so is, then, a Neo-modernism, which teaches the same evolutionary principles and has already (and forever) been condemned by the Church, Christ’s Body many times.
— Thomas Storck on our moment and imperative in liturgical history
(1) Council of Trent: “. . . this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament–seeing that one God is the author of both –as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.”
St. Thomas Aquinas on whether one must avoid (ipso facto or otherwise) excommunicated persons concerning whom experts disagree as to whether they are in fact excommunicated.
“It seems that those excommunicates should not be avoided concerning whose excommunication wise men hold conflicting opinions. Because according to the laws a bishop cannot remove a benefice which he has granted to a cleric without some fault on the cleric’s part. But the communion of the faithful is as much due to any of the faithful as a benefice is due to a cleric to whom a bishop has granted it.
“So neither is the communion of the faithful to be withdrawn from anyone without fault. And when it is doubtful whether a cause is present, the mind of a good man ought to be more prompt to interpret the facts in the milder direction. Hence, when it is doubted whether some persons are excommunicated, one ought rather to take the position that they are not excommunicated, in which case there is no need to avoid them.
“But on the other hand, should someone die as a result of having been struck in war and it is unknown who struck him, on account of this doubt anyone who took part in the war is considered irregular by the laws. So analogously [“a simili”] it seems that when there is a doubt as to whether some persons are excommunicated, for greater safety they ought to be avoided.
“I reply that doubt as to whether certain persons are excommunicated either precedes the sentence of the judges or else follows it. If it comes before, for instance when it has not yet been declared by the consensus of the judges that certain persons are excommunicated, they are not to be avoided until the matter has been closed by definitive judgment. For in this case it is true that we ought to follow the milder interpretation.
Hence Deuteronomy 17:8 says: If thou perceive that there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment…and thou see that the words of the judges within thy gates do vary…thou shalt come to the priests and to the judge…and thou shalt ask of them…and thou shalt do whatsoever they shall say.” — Quodlibet IV, Art XIV
Along similar lines…
In the Event of the Most Serious Confusion: “The People Are Not Oblidged to Know…”
St. Antoninus, commenting on the Great Western Schism.
“The question was much discussed and much was written in defence of one side or the other. For as long as the schism lasted each obedience had in its favour men who were very learned in scripture and Canon Law, and even very pious people, including some who – what is much more – were illustrious by the gift of miracles.
“Nonetheless the question could never be settled without leaving the minds of many still in doubt. Doubtless we must believe that, just as there are not several Catholic Churches, but only one, so there is only one Vicar of Christ who is its pastor. But if it should occur that, by a schism, several popes are elected at the same time, it does not seem necessary for salvation to believe that this or that one in particular is the true pope, but just in general whichever of them was canonically elected.
“The people are not obliged to know who was canonically elected, just as they are not obliged to know canon law; in this matter they may follow the judgment of their superiors and prelates.” —- St. Antoninus, pars 3, tit. 22, cap. 2
Doubtless we can extrapolate lessons from history to some of the great confusions in our own day.
Note: the above last quote of St. Thomas pertains to ecclesial office, a strictly juridical consideration relative to Catholic orthodoxy. On the other hand, with respect to “familiarity or friendship,” I stumbled upon the following quote by Leo XIII:
“Everyone should avoid familiarity or friendship with anyone suspected of belonging to masonry or to affiliated groups. Know them by their fruits and avoid them. Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God”. [Custodi di Quella Fede, par. 15]
“Tradition is the democracy of the dead. It means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes: our ancestors.” — G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, ch.4
* Note on Progressivism: The revelation recorded in Sacred Scripture shows being as its province from first to last in keeping with the unchangeable nature of God Himself (Exo.3:14, Jn. 8:58, etc.), creation and thus all of reality (Gen.1:1). ‘Becoming‘ by contrast is generally the philosophy of the ancient Greco-Roman philosophers, and their modern and postmodern “Progressivist “heirs which infected Catholic theology in the Modernist crisis of the 19th and 20th centuries, which Pope St Pius X decisively confronted and condemned. These two philosophical approaches are irreconcilable. — SH / 2015
— Podesta infiltration conspiracy, 2012?: “Revolution in Catholic Church”: https://youtu.be/mmC9GLRTT20
What Catholics Must Believe… And Never Believe.
The ordinary magisterium of the Church, we are taught, is binding and infallible to the extent [only] that it is consistent with the same substance, meaning and direction as the Church always taught. Vatican I (one) taught:
“The doctrine of the faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine Deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding ( or meaning) of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious pretext of a deeper understanding”. (21)
“If anyone shall have said that it is possible that to the dogmas declared by the Church a meaning must sometimes be attributed according to the progress of science, differentthat which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema”. (22) Updated 2021, 2022
—- Regarding Dogmatic Teachings: Tradition and the Living Magisterium