WARNING: Please Don’t Read This Book
© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns
Many have asked what I now recommend concerning my previous statement of the case for a papal election presented in the work I (primarily) wrote in 1989: “Will the Catholic Church Survive the 20th Century…?” Obviously I no longer believe that a true pope can be elected in the present circumstances, seeing that no certainly valid members of the hierarchy currently are available. At that time, however, I fervently believed that the Church could not exist without a Pope and that in light of the defection of the Cardinals, even the laity could elect a layman as Pope. Needless to say, continued study and more mature years have put a different light on the matter, just as it also did for St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori. These men did not hesitate to change their teachings to reflect the fact that new evidence had come to light which caused them to change their minds.
For many years I believed that a conflict of law (allowing only cardinals to elect a member of the hierarchy pope) could be resolved in favor of the common good to promote unity among the faithful, thus resolving the crisis in the Church. But neither unity nor the common good is ever served when a man not possessing apostolicity claims to be fit for the priesthood, far less the papacy. No one can, in good conscience, recognize such a one as a true successor of the Apostles. Many pre-election did object that a layman could not be elected; they refused, however to demonstrate why. Today, we know what they meant, yet failed to explain; but then hindsight is always 20/20.
While “Will the Catholic Church Survive…?” is definitely flawed in its conclusions, this does not necessarily affect the truth of what is generally presented in the many sections of the book I personally authored. This is especially true because so much of what was presented came directly from the works of others writing with Church approval prior to 1959. Their works and statements cannot be discredited simply because they were (unknowingly) used to arrive at a wrong solution to a very difficult problem. The different terms of a syllogism can be correct, while the conclusion of the syllogism is false. It seems the book fell on the sword of what is called the “fallacy of the complex question” in the study of formal logic, used by scholastics.
It is important to understand that the laity has never elected popes (they have only nominated or acclaimed them) far less nominated a layman as pope in the absence of any hierarchy to ordain or consecrate the one elected. Therefore no pope was ever lacking the official confirmation of the hierarchy, no matter how irregular an election might have been. Unfortunately this clear fact was never addressed or explored in the book as it should have been. In fact the research for the entire writing project was not conducted in proper fashion and the rules of scholastic process were not followed. Therefore many theological errors in thinking occurred and these errors have been addressed and corrected in articles appearing on my website over the past two years. For a summary of the truths which refute these errors, see “No Apostolic Succession, No Pope” in the section “False Popes, Antichrists,…” on this board.
When I tell people not to read the book, even though I believe that the Church teaching and laws in the book, taken by themselves, are still true, I am doing what the Church has always done. When she condemns a book, She doesn’t say: “Just read these parts and ignore the rest.” Instead, She condemns the whole book. Am I usurping the rights of the Church to condemn books as dangerous and forbidden? No; I am only exercising my obligation as a Catholic to denounce error wherever I find it. And I have every right to cite the constant practice of the Church concerning the case of dangerous books.
THEREFORE, AS THE PRIMARY AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK, NOTHING MAY BE QUOTED IN MY NAME FROM “Will the Catholic Church Survive…?,” UNLESS SUCH QUOTES ARE MADE ONLY WITH MY EXPRESS AND PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION AND KNOWLEDGE. FROM A STANDPOINT OF FAITH, SINCERE CATHOLICS ARE BOUND TO HONOR THIS REQUEST.
(For a sampling of how far off course the book was in several of its conclusions, and why the many contradictions found within its pages are not representative of Catholic truth, please visit http://www.jmjsite.com/whatdobennsandbawdenteach.pdf)