Saturday, June 27, 2009

The first and most recent popes and invincible ignorance

John 10:26-27: "But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me."

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 7, CANON VII: "If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law of Christ; let him be anathema."

Please also read:
Pope Pius IX and Invincible Ignorance
How does a manifest heretic destroy faith and create schism?
Crisis in the Catholic Church: The Leo XIII Connection
Invalid acts of the pre-Vatican II Antipopes
Natural Law and Conscience
What are the Catholic Holydays of Obligation?

Who decrees, declares, and defines the law of Christ?  The pope.  And if we are bound to the observance of the whole law of Christ, then shouldn't we do our utmost to learn who the lawful pastors have been and obey them, while shunning those who cannot command the children of God?

St. Thomas Aquinas, Prima Secunda Partis, Q. 76, Art. 2: "Now it is evident that whoever neglects to have or do what he ought to have or do, commits a sin of omission. Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called "invincible," because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: Wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin. On the other hand, vincible ignorance is a sin, if it be about matters one is bound to know; but not, if it be about things one is not bound to know."

It is necessary and one is bound to know who the first pope is. By Divine and Catholic Faith, we believe that St. Peter was the first of many men chosen by Christ to represent Him on earth after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. This, of course is important, so that we may see how the papacy began, and how it developed under the protection of God the Holy Ghost.

It is also necessary to know who the current, or at least the most recent pope is, as we are bound to obey the Vicar of Christ in all that he commands. Without knowing who the current or most recent pope is, then we do not have an authoritative voice to follow, guiding us in matters Divinely revealed and disciplines Divinely enjoined, since it is entirely possible to fall into the error of following a heretic, who is no pope at all, such as the recent Vatican II so-called popes.

It is not without reason that Pope Paul IV legislated so strongly against a heretic usurper, going so far as to clearly enunciate that all of his teachings and disciplinary actions would be void of any force.

By recognizing who is an antipope and who is a true pope, we can determine whose teachings and disciplines we must obey, and those whose teachings we must reject as non-Catholic. Any person who knowingly acknowledges a public or manifest heretic as a Catholic pope cannot themselves remain Catholic, being in heresy themselves. They are heretical for denying the dogma that heretics, by Divine Law and without the need for any declaration at all, are ejected from the Catholic Church, and out of the way of salvation.

Or to put it another way, those multitudes of people out there who say we must "recognize and resist" are necessarily saying that (the man they view as) Christ's own duly appointed Vicar is to be resisted. If this is not offensive to your ears, just consider the logical conclusions of such a position in light of Christ's own words:

St. Matthew 28:18: "And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth."

Christ is given ALL power.

St. Matthew 16:18: "And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"

St. Matthew 18:17: "And if he will not hear them: tell the Church. And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican."

St. John 13:20: "Amen, amen I say to you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me."

Christ has given His power to St. Peter and his successors and has sent them. Can it really be said that by receiving a heretic, we are receiving Christ? Or are we receiving the "heathen and publican"?

St. John 10:12: "But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep"

Ignorance itself will not excuse a person from the guilt of infidelity to the true religion, which is not limited to paganism, but also includes subjecting oneself to a heretical antipope, who is not the head of the Catholic Church, not the Vicar of Christ, lest Christ be accused of appointing a hireling over His flock and breaking His promise.

But invincible ignorance alone can excuse such guilt. Notice also that the following teaching of Pius IX does not state that such persons will be exonerated from the guilt of original sin or other sins against morality. Pope Pius IX never taught that persons who actually die in the state of invincible ignorance of the true Faith could be saved, but that their just punishment would not include punishment for infidelity.

Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadem, December 9, 1854: "For it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God."

"Guilt in this matter" - that is guilt in the matter of their laboring outside the Church. Original sin and other sins against morality remain unforgiven, for there is no remission of sins outside of the Catholic Church.

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302, ex cathedra: "Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles proclaims: 'One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,' and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed."

If the danger posed by such false apostles is so easily dismissed by the multitudes today, they have not taken seriously the warning of St. Paul:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15: "For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice, whose end shall be according to their works."

Is a person who is subject to satan himself and his counterfeit ministers subject to Christ? God forbid!

2 Corinthians 6:14-15: "Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?"

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302, ex cathedra: "Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

This is why YOU MUST learn who is and who is not the Vicar of Jesus Christ!  It is IMPERATIVE for a person with the use of reason and free will to explicitly and obediently submit to the Roman Pontiff, or at least to the office and authority thereof.  Again, as St. Thomas states, if a person is UNABLE to know that the person he is professing subjection to is not in fact the true Vicar of Jesus Christ, that is, if his ignorance cannot be overcome by study, then his ignorance is invincible, and according to Pope Pius IX, such ignorance is not imputed to a person as sin.  Thus any person who was Catholic, prior to the time a heretic took the place of supposed Pontiff, would have been free from the subjective guilt of schism, if his ignorance to the fact of the supposed Pontiff's heresy were truly invincible.

NEVERTHELESS, it is a definite stretch to assert that a person with the use of reason who has access to other people, books and libraries could be invincibly ignorant of any human knowledge at all. For this reason, and the fact that all human beings have an obligation to find and profess the true Faith of Jesus Christ, in the world today it would be imprudent to attempt to exonerate anyone at all with the excuse of invincible ignorance, not to mention it is unlawful to do so, as Pius IX asserts with his very next words in Singulari Quadem:

Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadem, December 9, 1854: "Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains 'we shall see God as He is' (1 John 3.2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is "one God, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4.5); it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry."

So anyone at all who is subject to a manifestly heretical papal claimant, recognizing them as a Catholic pope, is objectively committing the crime of infidelity against the true religion, and we MUST, in accordance with Catholic teaching, hold them to be OUTSIDE the Catholic Church, being that it is unlawful for us to suppose invincible ignorance.  The judgment that such and such a person may have been in invincible ignorance, and thus not guilty of schism, as seen by the quotation above, is for God alone to make, and we must base our judgments upon what is objectively knowable.

So from this it follows that a person who had been validly baptized and was orthodox in belief, receiving valid sacraments, yet was subject to heretical so-called Catholic clergy must be held to be outside the Catholic Church. ONLY GOD knows if they were in such a state due to culpable ignorance or invincible ignorance. Being united to a false apostle through sloth or indifference, that is culpable ignorance, is a mortal sin, schism, and will drown a soul to the depths of hell. In these evil days especially, we have a duty to know if those from whom we receive the body of the Lord are His children or His enemies.

St. Mark 13:5-6: "And Jesus answering, began to say to them, Take heed lest any man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and they shall deceive many."

The deception consists not only in saying "I am He" but also "I am the Vicar of Christ," or "I am a minister of Christ".

St. Matthew 24:21-25: "For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand."

Unless those days had been shortened no flesh should be saved. We should not be surprised to think that most people who thought they were Catholics in the past century have gone to hell for being in schism from the true Faith. Some might here ask: "How could God allow so many people to be cast out of the Church?"

This is forewarned by St. Vincent Ferrer, in a sermon preached about six hundred years ago, and his answer is thus:

Sermon of St. Vincent Ferrer on the Final Judgment: "I am asked why God permits this error among Christians, since He is God and the strongest cannot stand against Him? I answer by a dictum of theology taken from the Book of Wisdom (11:17) : "By what things a man sinneth, by the same also is he tormented.""

Even willingly holding onto venial sins because "they won't keep us out of heaven" is enough cause for us to be delivered up to spiritual blindness, let alone the mantra of so many false traditionalists who cry "Who cares if the SSPV is neutral in regard to who the pope is, it doesn't even matter, we have no pope!" Being schismatically united to a false apostle in this way can also be a punishment for other sins for which one has not yet renounced, or is not yet sufficiently contrite for. Combine this with a world that has steadily marched to the beat of constant revolution against Catholicism, prelates and faithful who have conceded more and more, and it should be no surprise that the prophecies of Amos, St. Paul and Christ Himself find fulfillment also in our age:

Amos 8:11: "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 2:10: "And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying"

Apocalypse 3:16: "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth."

Needless to say, those who are hot with the love of God desire to know His Faith well enough to spot heresy and to avoid all heretics, especially those who claim to be the supreme pastor over the whole Catholic Church. If not, then they better be cold to the world, cold from the fear of God, which is the beginning of His love (Ecclesiasticus 25:16). It is in sincerely struggling to learn and profess the Faith that we are given the grace to hold it and preserve it, even against seemingly insurmountable odds and against almost the whole world.

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