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PopeWatch: Yes, Next Question?

 

Father Z asks if a schism exists in the Church:

 

I pay scant attention to Patheos, but for a couple contributors.  This caught my eye after a frequent commentator here alerted me.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote, with my legendary emphases and comments:

Headlines last week were proclaiming that a group of cardinals believe Pope Francis should step down to avoid a catastrophic schism in the Catholic Church.

Schism? What schism?

In fact, the modern Catholic Church is already in schism, but it is an internal schism, hidden to most people.  [He is using the term “schism” equivocally, but read on…]

The divide is very clear and yet virtually unspoken. Nobody dares to really speak of it.  [I don’t know about that.  HERE] The divide runs between cardinals. It runs between bishops and archbishops. It runs between theologians. It runs between parish priests. It runs between liturgists and catechists, church workers, musicians, teachers, journalists and writers. [All true.]

It is not really a divide between conservative and liberal, between traditionalist and progressive. [Wellll…]

[NB] It is the divide between those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Virgin born Son of God and that as the second person of the Holy and undivided Trinity established his church on earth supernaturally filled with the Holy Spirit which  would stand firm until the end of time, and those who believe otherwise. [As I read, I am acutely aware of my post about yesterday’s “Anthema” ceremony for Orthodoxy Sunday of Eastern Christians.]

Those who believe otherwise are the modernists. [Let’s also use “heretics”.] They are the ones who think the church is a human construct. It is a historic accident that occurred two thousand years ago and succeeded by a few twists of fate and a few happy circumstances. Because the believe the church is a human construct from a particular time and place, the church can and MUST adapt and change for every age and culture in which she finds herself.

This is the great divide. This is the schism which already exists.

[…]

I direct the readership’s attention to just about anything offered by Card. Kasper lately and, in particular, the incredible comments made by Card. Coccopalmerio to Edward Pentin HERE:

PENTIN: One last topic: At a recent plenary meeting with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, you reportedly encouraged the members to push for a less rigid understanding of the priesthood, essentially telling them to give up on an objective and metaphysical notion of priesthood. Your notion was that as we have an understanding of different levels of communion with the Church among the baptized, we should have different degrees of the fullness of priesthood, so as to permit Protestants to minister without being fully ordained. What exactly did you say, and why did you say it?

CARD. C: I was saying we have to reflect on questions. We say, everything is valid; nothing is valid. Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of validity or invalidity. The Second Vatican Council said there is a true communion even if it is not yet definitive or full. You see, they made a concept not so decisive, either all or nothing. There’s a communion that is already good, but some elements are missing. But, if you say some things are missing and that therefore there is nothing, you err. There are pieces missing, but there is already a communion, but it is not full communion. The same thing can be said, or something similar, of the validity or invalidity of ordination. I said let’s think about it. It’s a hypothesis. Maybe there is something, or maybe there’s nothing — a study, a reflection.

Call into question the very concept of validity?  What are the implications?

Effectively, that means the obliteration of the Catholic Church.

What do libs do? They launch things out as ideas, “hypothesis”, and then they walk them back or they add “nuances”.  In the meantime the needle has been bumped a half a point in the desired direct.  Card. Kasper put some ideas out there to kick around.  Chaos ensued.  But now we have some bishops who say that the divorced and remarried can be given absolution and Communion while others don’t.  This, based on an objectively unclear papal document.  It’s surreal.  Now, Card. Coccopalmerio (as LutherFest 2017 revs up) lofts the notion that, perhaps, there are shades or, a spectrum of validity.  Maybe there isn’t really any such thing as validity.

Are there 50 Shades of Gray Validity?

 

Go here to read the comments.  Pope Francis is not to blame for the schism.  He merely has allowed those who created the schism to come forward into the light, now that they think they have a Pope of their own.  If anything constructive has happened within the Church as a result of this papacy, it is that the ranks of orthodox Catholics who realize that their is a schism within the Church is growing.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

36 Comments

  1. Schism has a clearly defined meaning in the Code of Canon Law; “[S]chism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” [schisma, subiectionis Summo Pontifici aut communionis cum Ecclesiae membris eidem subditis detrectatio.] c 751

    Apart from a handful of Traditionalist and Sede Vacantist groups, there is no new schism in the Church. There has been no breach of visible communion.

  2. Ah, legal definitions, my bread and butter! In their relationship to reality they frequently remind me of this quote from Lincoln:

    In discussing the question, he used to liken the case to that of the boy who, when asked how many legs his calf would have if he called its tail a leg, replied, ” Five,” to which the prompt response was made that calling the tail a leg would not make it a leg.

  3. Pope Francis is not to blame for the schism. He merely has allowed those who created the schism to come forward into the light, now that they think they have a Pope of their own.

    No. That would be the case if Pope Francis is a weak Pope. Pope Francis is actively promoting those pushing schism and actively rebuking and undermining those who hold to Orthodoxy. As to whether the Pope can be in schism with the Church, that is an old question that won’t be answered until he tries to make an infallible doctrine that is in contradiction with infallible doctrines in the past. For all Pope Francis’ manifest heresy, he still hasn’t crossed that bridge. In the case of Ecumenical Councils, this has been answered….Ecumenical Councils can be fallible and thus be declared false councils (e.g. Robber Council, e Fourth Council of Constantinople of 879) by a Pope.

  4. The “full Communion,” will rush upon heretics that knowingly subvert the Holy Catholic Church. Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Coccopalmerio may wish to hold their tongues tightly to the roofs of their mouths. Mill stones are being made faster than the wordsmith’s can create chaos. Oh eternity! The splendor and the horrifying.

  5. Mark 7:6: “He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” I suppose there have been all sorts of schisms of incomplete, imperfect, and unapologetically heretical practice and belief, from the individual on up since the beginning. A schism need not be explicit
    or formal to exist.

  6. Mark 7:6: He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Informal schism, intentional deliberate departure from defined faith and practice, has been there from the beginning. A group formally breaking off is
    not the only kind of schism, nor perhaps the most serious. It is the hidden schism of quislings, firth columnists, traitors, and Judases who rot from within, and the useful idiots that unwittingly aid and abet them. Let us not fall into facadism, trusting the pleasant appearance without is an indication of the pleasant environment within. Beware the ‘whited sepulcher’ full of dead bones.

  7. It appears that Pope Francis has confused the priesthood of the laity with the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the ordained priesthood. In the matter of the Sacrament of Matrimony, Pope Francis is calling forth the priesthood of the laity to redefine the Sacrament of Matrimony. The priesthood of the laity a Vatican II concept must be impeccably imbued with the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, so help me God. He would be Jesus. Only the Catholic Church can remove excommunication once a person has been excommunicated. I believe Luther was excommunicated. When Pope Francis formally removes the excommunication of Martin Luther and his followers, then the conversation might begin. Up until then, Pope Francis is tormenting the faithful with absolute maybes and definite nothings.

  8. As to whether the Pope can be in schism with the Church, that is an old question that won’t be answered until he tries to make an infallible doctrine that is in contradiction with infallible doctrines in the past. For all Pope Francis’ manifest heresy, he still hasn’t crossed that bridge.

    Unless & until he crosses that bridge, I don’t believe he’ll be in formal heresy either, in spite of his apparent unorthodoxy.

    Edward Peters addressed the schism question over the past weekend.

  9. The opening for the schism was Vatican II which quickly resulted in SSPX and perhaps another 10-20% of Catholics who sensed the Church had lost it’s way and consequently rejected much of Protestantization taking place. Now, with Pope Francis the veil of clerical hypocrisy is being removed as we see the moral compromises being revealed in their many shades of black and gray. To me the legal formality is irrelevant. We now have a defacto schism by certain members of the clergy.

  10. Not unlike the efforts to repeal obamacare, a new Pope will make a correction to chapter 8. Clarification will come. It isn’t coming from the dubia. My guess is that Pope Francis will step down. The pressure will build and become unbearable. Ego will win. Humility will not prevail. He will not address chapter 8. His health will deteriorate.

    Pray for him.

  11. Ernst Schreiber wrote, “Edward Peters addressed the schism question over the past weekend.”

    Dr Peter’s conclusion: “Bottom-line: as to the specific possibility of a pope himself committing (as opposed to, Deus vetet, causing or occasioning in others) the crime of schism—I’m not seeing it.”

    That is obviously right. It follows from the decree Pastor Æternus of the First Vatican Council: “If anyone, then, shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection or direction, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the world; or assert that he possesses merely the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power; or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the Pastors and the faithful; let him be anathema.”

    There is an obvious corollary: those in visible communion with the Pope cannot be in schism either.

  12. “There is an obvious corollary: those in visible communion with the Pope cannot be in schism either.”

    How far do you carry that MPS? Let us say that we have a Pope who denies the divinity of Christ. Would being in visible communion with such a Pope mean that no schism had occurred in the Church? If Catholics cast off allegiance to such a Pope and assembled a group of Cardinals who elected a new Pope who was orthodox, would the old Pope now be in schism or would the Catholics defending the divinity of Christ be in schism? There is much more to Catholicism than “Thus sayeth the Pope!”

  13. Mr.McClarey,

    Assuming that your hypothetical pope didn’t speak in the capacity of his office as shepard and teacher of all Christians (as Pope Francis has not done), then it would be impossible to justify supporting schismatic cardinals in good conscience. I would be especially weary of putting my trust in a splintering group of cardinals who elected such a man to begin with. Honorius I doesn’t become less-than-pope for running his mouth nor Benedict IX for being profligate and a disgrace to the chair.

  14. I quite agree with Mr. Dowd. “Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those in the MOST need of they mercy”

  15. “Assuming that your hypothetical pope didn’t speak in the capacity of his office as shepard and teacher of all Christians (as Pope Francis has not done), then it would be impossible to justify supporting schismatic cardinals in good conscience.’

    There we will have to disagree. A Pope who denied the divinity of Christ would be an anti-Pope and not a Pope, even if he did not use the ex cathedra incantation devised by Vatican I when engaging in apostasy.

  16. Let us say that we have a Pope who denies the divinity of Christ. Would being in visible communion with such a Pope mean that no schism had occurred in the Church? [. . . .] A Pope who denied the divinity of Christ would be an anti-Pope and not a Pope, even if he did not use the ex cathedra incantation devised by Vatican I when engaging in apostasy.

    My guess would be that that “ex cathedra incantation” as you call it would be why your scenario would never happen. What I mean by that goes back to all the speculative theology by Bellermine (?) et. al. on how a Pope who taught heresy would cease to be Pope. But he has to teach it, not just speculatively ramble and prate with his marxist drinking buddy who then posts his “exclusive one on one interview” to snapfacechatterbooktwit But I’m no expert. Heck, I’m not even staying at the Vatican Holiday Inn Express, if you know what I mean.

    And your scenario is too simple. The real question is what, if anything, can be done about a Pope who privately denies the divinity of Christ.

    Honorius I doesn’t become less-than-pope for running his mouth nor Benedict IX for being profligate and a disgrace to the chair.

    Honorius’s problem was that he didn’t run his mouth when he should have.

  17. “The real question is what, if anything, can be done about a Pope who privately denies the divinity of Christ.”

    History tells us that: elect a new Pope. It has happened many times in the history of the Papacy. We are not familiar with it, because it has been centuries since we last had a lunatic as Pope. Lucky us to live in such times.

  18. Since I was too busy there trying to be clever to bother with clarity, what I’m saying is this:
    Francis may want to change unchangeable doctrine about divorce and remarriage, homosexuality (q.v.), cohabitation, birth control, and any number of other things concerning dogma. Liberals/Progressives?Modernists, clergy and laity alike, may want Francis to change those things (and those in the position to do so may be actively encouraging or utilizing Francis to do just that). Francis may just be a fuzzy headed scatterbrain who thinks love (and mercy!) conquers all and everything else is just commentary. The important point is that regardless of what Francis wants and regardless of what the aforementioned Liberal/Progressive/Modernists want, he can’t change dogma. All he/they/(whomever) can do is use ambiguity to pretend like he can.

    But that doesn’t mean we should react to their studied ambiguity, (or anything they –I’m looking at you, German & Maltese Bishops– try to build on that ambiguity) as if they’ve succeeded at doing what they can only pretend to accomplish.

    Bruce Jenner can grow out his hair and paint his nails and rouge his lips and shave his legs and wear short skirts, high heels and a padded bra and call himself Caitlyn. And Google and Wikipedia can redirect “Bruce Jenner” to “Caitlyn Jenner” and call him “she.”

    But he’s still a man.

    Because what can’t be changed

    isn’t.

  19. Actually what history tells us is to assassinate the current incumbent before we elect his replacement.

    You left that step out.

  20. “The important point is that regardless of what Francis wants and regardless of what the aforementioned Liberal/Progressive/Modernists want, he can’t change dogma.”

    Oh, he certainly can attempt to do so, and take countless souls to Hell as a result. Changing dogma by stealth is precisely what the gang in the Vatican currently is all about and I do not think sitting on our hands and praying for better days is proving to be an effective strategy. I hope that a group of Cardinals can convince him to resign. If not, depending upon the man chosen, I would endorse a group of Cardinals finding that Pope Francis has ceased to be Pope and electing a replacement Pope in his stead. An old remedy from Church history that I wish was not required, but I fear that we have not seen the worst of Francis yet.

  21. Hah! I just saw this Clarence Darrow worthy legal move. Mentioned on Fr. Z’s site.

    A Miami defense lawyer’s pants burst into flames Wednesday afternoon as he began his closing arguments in front of a jury — in an arson case.

    Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.

  22. I would endorse a group of Cardinals finding that Pope Francis has ceased to be Pope and electing a replacement Pope in his stead.

    I’m going off of memory here, and I don’t have the time to make sure I’m remembering correctly, but as I recall, the last group of Cardinals who did that were promptly excommunicated by the guy they’d just elected. Because nobody, not even a Council, has the right to judge the Pope. One of us will have to try to look it up. n.b. I’m not saying that that means the Pope is always right.

  23. “Because nobody, not even a Council, has the right to judge the Pope.”

    Not a right, but a necessary duty depending upon the circumstance. Necessity in emergency situations is its own law, even in Canon law. A close examination of the machinations surrounding the Council of Constance may be instructive reading for Cardinals who have the good of the Church at heart.

  24. I have a soft spot for Conciliarism, the Holy Roman Empire and the Dual Monarchy too, good republican & constitutionalist that I am…

    But, do you really want to encourage and empower the factionalism of the gossipy, clucking grannies in the College of Cardinals like that?

    Whose to say that the stupid faction and the the evil faction wouldn’t get together and do something both stupid and evil?

    And my guess is, the duty born of necessity is to attempt to correct the Pope, not depose him.

  25. He has a life expectancy of about 8 years. The Cardinals may hope nature takes its course before he does irreparable damage (above and beyond what he has done). I do wonder if his acts might be considered invalid if it is discovered that Benedict’s departure was coerced in some way.

  26. And my guess is, the duty born of necessity is to attempt to correct the Pope, not depose him.

    Francis was pretty irritated that the most recent synod did not give him precisely what he wanted. A certain amount of contumacious and passive-aggressive behavior on the part of bishops may one hopes do the trick.

  27. “But, do you really want to encourage and empower the factionalism of the gossipy, clucking grannies in the College of Cardinals like that?”

    Ideally no I would not. However, the election of Pope Francis illustrates that conditions within the Church currently are very far from ideal.

  28. Donald R McClarey asks, “Let us say that we have a Pope who denies the divinity of Christ. Would being in visible communion with such a Pope mean that no schism had occurred in the Church?”

    What have opinions to do with visible communion? As Bl John Henry Newman said, “We are called upon, not to profess any thing, but to submit and be silent, as Protestant Churchmen have before now obeyed the royal command to abstain from certain theological questions.”

    He adds that “Such injunctions as I have been contemplating are laid merely upon our actions, not upon our thoughts. How, for instance, does it tend to make a man a hypocrite, to be forbidden to publish a libel? his thoughts are as free as before: authoritative prohibitions may tease and irritate, but they have no bearing whatever upon the exercise of reason.”

  29. “What have opinions to do with visible communion?”

    In your view MPS apparently nothing matters except blind obedience to a Pope no matter what he says or does. Thanks for the clarification of your position.

  30. “Here, of course, I must explain: — in saying this, then, undoubtedly I am not denying that the great body of the Bishops were in their internal belief orthodox; nor that there were numbers of clergy who stood by the laity, and acted as their centres and guides; nor that the laity actually received their faith, in the first instance, from the Bishops and clergy; nor that some portions of the laity were ignorant, and other portions at length corrupted by the Arian teachers, who got possession of the sees and ordained an heretical clergy; — but I mean still, that in that time of immense confusion the divine dogma of our Lord’s divinity was proclaimed, enforced, maintained, and (humanly speaking) preserved, far more by the ‘Ecclesia docta’ than by the ‘Ecclesia docens;’ that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the Pope, at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while, on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them. I see, then, in the Arian history a palmary example of a state of the Church, during which, in order to know the tradition of the Apostles, we must have recourse to the faithful….”

    Cardinal Newman

  31. Crossing the line: History tells us that there is no definite list of infallible statements by the popes. Like England, we have a living constitution in which certain great events and declarations stands out. When great controversies arise, such as the Arian heresy, Council propose definitions which, unfortunately, lead on to more controversy and even schism. Chalcedon was rejected by a majority of the bishop of the Church, which led to the first of the eastern schisms which remain with us today. Then the strictly political schism between Rome and Constantinople, which we managed to twist into a theological one. Then comes Luther. Then comes the modernists–which really starts with the efforts of Pope Benedict XIV failed dialogue with the philosophes and so here we. What gives me hope is that despite all this the Church manages to stay afloat in the stormy seas of the world.

  32. Donald R McClarey wrote, “In your view MPS apparently nothing matters except blind obedience to a Pope no matter what he says or does.”

    Pastor Æternus is chiefly remembered for its assertion of the sparingly exercised power of Papal Infallibility. However, it also insisted on two other things: the power of government and the power of jurisdiction.

    Thus, “the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary power over all other Churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatever rite and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world” and “We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.”

  33. John Shuh wrote, “History tells us that there is no definite list of infallible statements by the popes.”

    Were Cum Occasione and Unigenitus infallible? Most theologians think so but, whether they were or not is, in a sense, irrelevant; Innocent X, Alexander VII and Clement XI succeeded in unchurching the Jansenists. It is the old story: the Jesuits had the bishop of Rome in their party and the Jansenists did not.

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