© Copyright 2015, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
Liberalism — the primary heresy today
The objection is being raised once again that the Church could not possibly condemn Traditionalists and others for what they believe and practice. This despite clear teachings of both the Popes and councils, as well as Canon Law, that their sects are considered heretical by the Church and they are anathematized for any participation in these sects. As always, whenever this happens, some so-called cleric has accused stay-at-homes in general or one of this group’s adherents of damnable violations against charity in “judging” their neighbor as excluded from salvation. The objections voiced by these accusers could be been lifted directly from the pages of Rev. Felix Sarda y Salvany’s work “Liberalism Is a Sin.” Rev. Sarda defines this rejection of magisterial teaching as follows: “Belief is not imposed by a legitimately and divinely constituted authority, but springs directly and freely from the unrestricted exercise of the individual’s reason or caprice upon the subject matter of revelation.”
It is my personal opinion that especially those living in this country, having imbibed the foul waters of the Americanist heresy for over a century, never understood the obligation of a firm and irrevocable assent to Catholic teaching. Their freedoms as Americans to speak and believe as they pleased came first, and no pope had the right to tell them what to do. Traditionalist groups such as the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement even promoted Americanism among the early remnant by preaching John Birch Society doctrine from their pulpits. This successfully eroded all notion of the Church as the primary teaching authority. With the fever pitch of dislike and distrust for the antipopes on the rise, the idea of infallibility and unquestioning obedience to papal teaching became intolerable to many Catholics. True popes were openly criticized and their teachings examined through the eyes of historical revisionists, men intent on destroying the very idea of papal supremacy. Many even questioned the definition of infallibility, and this is where the Old Catholics regained their lost territory. For as articles posted to this site repeatedly point out, Traditional Catholics are nothing more than a revival of the Old Catholic sect, who were Liberals of the first water.
Rev. Sarda condemns Liberalism as a grave sin and cites Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors, to prove the Church has condemned it as a heresy. Rev. R. J. Meyer, S. J., writing 30 years later, agrees that liberalism, “under every form is heresy,” but emphasizes that “it is worse than simple heresy; for by rejecting the principle of authority, it strikes at the very foundation of faith, and consequently it comprehends under it all possible heresies. It is, therefore, radical and universal heresy,” (Science of the Saints). While Meyer’s treatment of this subject is brief, but complete, Sarda devotes an entire volume to it, delving into every aspect of this destructive error. He carefully explains that it is capable, chameleon-like, of adapting itself to any given situation, time or place, as does Meyer. “Liberalism is the most malignant of all heresies,” Sarda wrote. And Sarda’s work we can trust implicitly, for it had the distinction of being examined by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, which decided that Fr. Sarda, “merits great praise for his exposition and defense of the sound doctrine therein set forth with solidity, order and lucidity, without offense to anyone,” (introduction to his work). And those who claim Rev. Sarda’s work itself is rigoristic and offensive to potential converts should especially note this last highlighted phrase, which gives the lie, from the lips of authority, to their pretensions.
Sarda explains, for those who point out that loving God and neighbor is the highest good of all: “The good of all good is the divine good, just as God is for all men the neighbor of neighbors…the love due to a man ought always to be subordinated to that due…to Our Lord. The degree of our offense towards men can only be measured by the degree of our obligation to Him…Therefore to offend our neighbor for the love of God is a true act of charity. Not to offend our neighbor for the love of God is a sin.” And so Rev. Sarda explains that the great saints and Church Fathers did not hesitate to use imprecations, execrations, irony and colorful language to crush the heretics they opposed. Sarda holds that if our neighbor is displeased, outraged, humiliated or even if some material injury comes to him, if it is truly in the service of God — done to protect others from dangers against faith or for the neighbor’s own good — then it is not an option but an obligation. “When we correct the wicked by punishing or restraining him, nonetheless do we love him. This is charity and perfect charity.” Even the mild and gentle St. Francis de Sales agrees with Sarda. “The declared enemies of God and His Church, heretics and schismatics, must be criticized as much as possible, as long as truth is not denied. It is a work of charity to shout: ‘Here is the wolf!’ when it enters the flock or anywhere else,” (Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter 29).
Heresy and charity
And to silence the tiresome objections of neo-Liberals who point out that the Popes have bidden Catholic writers to refrain from personal invective, harsh words and aggressive tactics, Sarda makes an important distinction. Such counsels, he observes, are given to Catholic writers and journalists discussing free questions amongst themselves, not those defending truth from the attacks of heretics and those in bad faith. He scarcely envisioned the situation we face today. Most of the questions commonly posed on Catholic discussion forums or websites are not free, but concern matters of faith and morals already decided by the Church. “These [warnings of the popes] do not in any sense apply to Catholics waging a mortal combat with the declared enemies of the faith,” Sarda forcefully asserts. So Liberalism, summarized here, is the primary error we will deal with in the subject matter presented below. Those who favor the idea that “ONLY God” can truly know who should be regarded as a heretic or schismatic forget that God left us on earth infallible guides to make such determinations on His behalf, and that the very denial that this is indeed the case is the essence of Liberalism itself, as Rev. Sarda defines this heresy above: “Belief is not imposed by a legitimately and divinely constituted authority.”
Another complaint that should be addressed here is that everyone is viciously running around calling this person and that person a heretic or schismatic, implying that no one can really know then who is right and who is wrong so should not concern themselves with this nonsense. While this sounds unctuously charitable, it minimizes the seriousness of heresy and schism and places it on a par with needless nitpicking. Those leaders of Traditionalists groups MUST be called out as heretics and schismatics because they continue to seduce their followers, who believe themselves to be Catholic. For the most part, in writing the articles appearing on this site, heresies are condemned and those who hold them, but not individual persons. Traditionalists and Novus Ordo followers in general are condemned if they persist in their errors, but always with the understanding they can repent and be forgiven. Proofs that these misdeeds are truly heresy and schism is provided at length, and from the most reliable pre-1959 sources. What it appears those making this complaint are perturbed about is that they do not have the time nor the patience, or maybe the ability, to discern who is speaking the truth and who is not. But if one book — The Sources of Catholic Dogma — could be taken and gone though an item at a time, as I have tried to do in what is written here, how hard would it be for those accepting these statements as binding to determine that there is one thing, a truth and another thing, a statement contradicting that truth?
Could it possibly be that the real thing lacking in this inability or unwillingness to separate heresy or schism from truth is faith itself? Aren’t the people posing these complaints and making these statements really calling the truths of faith into question by pretending that it is all a big mishmash no one can sort out so is not worth their time? God would never allow His Church to propose truths all must believe in such a manner that they could not be understood. If the understanding is lacking the fault is in the individual, not God or His Church. The truths found in Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic dogma take some time to go through and must be understood as they are explained in the text, but the words and the meaning are clear. No one is pretending that all Catholics today must know all these truths and routinely condemn the heresies of those writing on the Internet; this would be absurd and would preclude any performance of daily duties in many cases. But they should be able to look them up when there is a question in the course of their daily lives, or ask others more familiar with the faith to help them resolve these issues. By so doing they are not judging their neighbor; they are helping him learn his faith and they are adding to their own knowledge of the faith. They are performing an act of charity, a spiritual work of mercy, whether it is well received or not. But they definitely are not acting uncharitably.
There are certain things to take into consideration when identifying heresy and schism, circumstances that could, if and when the Church is restored, help those guilty of material heresy better explain their case. In this work we will consider as baptized non-Catholics all Traditionalists and Novus Ordo adherents. Those belonging to either one of these sects have never received the entirety of Catholic truth, as noted above, and therefore should scarcely be judged as having been raised in a truly Catholic environment or educated as Catholics. They have, however, received enough Catholic truth that they should be able to weed out the errors now choking out the wheat, but to what extent must be determined by the hierarchy. We also will ignore special penalties for those who are clerics, treating all as lay people. For although a rare few may remain who are validly ordained, we speak to the greater majority who never were and never could be validly ordained yet are sacrilegiously functioning as priests (and bishops) today.
Rev. Eric Mackenzie wrote a dissertation to obtain a doctorate in Canon Law entitled “The Delict of Heresy,” (Catholic University of America, 1932). In his work, he explains that those laboring under an irregularity which constitutes infamy of law (inflicted ipso facto for joining/participating in a non-Catholic sect under Can. 2314§1, no. 3) can never validly be promoted to Holy Orders. With few if any exceptions, ALL Traditionalists either participated in the Novus Ordo or some Traditionalist sect outside the jurisdiction of a valid Roman Pontiff prior to their “ordination.” They therefore are invalidly ordained for this reason as well as many others. For more information on this topic, go to /free-content/reference-links/7-recent-articles/binding-power-of-papacy-voids-traditionalist-acts/ ).
Heresy is incurred automatically, by word or deed
According to St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, one need not worry, in dealing with heretics, when those espousing Liberal charity accuse their neighbors of failing to give a warning, rash judging or being judgmental. St. Alphonsus writes, under the heading The Duty of Accusing or Denouncing Another: “Here it is asked whether fraternal correction must precede accusation. Several distinctions must be made…(1) If the crime is public, since for this reason infamy or notoriety is already present, (e.g., before a number of people in the street), then no correction ought to precede. Thus St. Thomas, Sanchez, Scotus, Paludanus and Salmant with the common opinion. In such a case, to quote St. Thomas, ‘The remedy must not be applied only to him who has sinned that he may improve, but also to those who notice the crime has come.’ And for this reason, a public crime ought to be punished. The truth is you do not sin either against charity or against justice if you accuse without warning (1) When the crime gives injury to the common weal as in…heresy…For with these crimes, scarcely, if ever, is it to be hoped that correction will be fruitful, and delay can be exceedingly harmful,”(Theologia Moralis; secondary source quote).
And this is reflected not only as the “opinion’ of St. Alphonsus, but as the constant teaching of the Church, (see the quotes provided below). Notice also that St. Alphonsus does not limit such correction to the clergy or hierarchy; he is addressing the faithful in general here. And notice also that the two warnings discussed in Part I would not be strictly necessary. Yet in applying the law of excommunication, the Church advises one act with discretion, and so equity is used here even though it is not necessarily required.
“Christians must strive not to attribute the sin of heresy to their neighbor as long as another explanation remains possible. But charity does not require mental gymnastics in order to excuse what is manifest, [evident, obvious, not obscure]. However, the thesis here defended does not depend on identifying pertinacity as defined by the moralists, but as defined by canonists: conscious rejection of dogma on the part of a baptized person. This prescinds from the moral order, forming a judgment which need concern only the external forum, yet which has no connection with the error of those who ‘presume’ pertinacity where some other reasonable explanation of the external data remains available, such as simple ignorance or inadvertence. Obstinacy may be assumed when a revealed truth has been proposed with sufficient clearness and force to convince a reasonable man.” (Dom Charles Augustine: A Commentary on Canon Law, Vol. 8, pg. 335.)
Rev. R. J. Meyer provides a helpful quote from St. Ignatius on the preferred approach to be used in dealing with those who sincerely wish to correct their errors. “Every good Christian ought to be more inclined to put a favorable construction on another’s opinion or proposition than to condemn it. If he can in no way defend it, let him ask the speaker how he understands it, and in case the latter think amiss, correct him kindly. If even this does not suffice, let him try all suitable means to make him think aright and save him from error.” It should be noted, however, that Meyer offers this quote as a method to be used only in dealing with those in good faith. Rev. Sarda is of a much sterner outlook, preferring immediate and direct confrontation of Liberals of any shade with the whole truth, a tactic he describes as giving the enemy “no quarter.” So somewhere between the good faith coupled with the readiness to repent and the recalcitrance of those who refuse to repent, even knowing that Liberalism is heresy, there lies a battleground on which serious decisions must be made. Thankfully the Church has made most of those decisions for us, if we will only implement them.
St. Paul commands Titus: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition avoid, knowing that he, that is such a one, is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment,” (Titus 3:10,11). And that is Divine law. It should be noted here that the very law used as the old law for the canons on heresy, Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, which we are bound to consult should any questions arise concerning the law (Can. 6 §4), states that where public heresy is concerned, no warning or declaratory sentence is required for the censure to take effect. “The persons themselves so promoted and elevated [to the office of primate, bishop cardinal or pope] shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power, (without any exception as regards those who might have been promoted or elevated before they deviated from the faith, became heretics, incurred schism, or committed or encouraged any or all of these.)” This is the master law now governing the Church, since all have expressed doubts concerning the laws on heresy.
Pope Paul IV gives the faithful a pass concerning mistaking an antipope as a true pope by saying they do not incur any censure if they leave him. But as indicated in Can 2200, this does not mean they can be excused for accepting his heresies, even if only materially. Canon 2200 was written for all the faithful, and with Cum ex… as a footnote, it is clear that even if the one accused or asked to retract insists they are not guilty, they are still outside the Church until such time as the proper authority can absolve them, (although by three years of study, repentance, reparation and careful adherence to Church law and teaching, it can be assumed they are in good faith. Revs. Woywod-Smith state under Can. 672§1, also Can. 2295 that the religious who has given signs of complete amendment for three years is to be readmitted to his order.) Canon 2200 tells us that in doubt we must presume those speaking or writing heresy are guilty, but only of the external violation of the law. WE do not say this and WE do not judge them; the law judges them. Can. 2200 tells us that given the external violation of the law, the evil will is to be presumed until proven otherwise by the offender and so decided by the hierarchy. All of this is discussed in Part I.
When is heresy no longer material, or ignorance invincible?
Bp. Hay in his work “The Sincere Christian” sets down the requirements for the existence of invincible ignorance and instructs non-Catholics on how they are to proceed in order to find the truth. His work must be qualified with the later teachings of the popes, who presume that such individuals are not baptized Catholics. “For one to be in invincible ignorance it is required that he be sincerely resolved toembrace the truth wherever he may find it and whatever it may cost him. For if he benot fully resolved to follow the will of God, wherever it shall appear to him, in allthings necessary to salvation; if on the contrary, he be so disposed that he wouldrather neglect his duty and hazard his soul than correct an ill custom, ordisoblige his friends, or expose himself to some temporal loss ordisadvantage…such a disposition must be highly displeasing to God and an ignorance arising from it can never excuse him before his Creator…He must sincerely use his best endeavors to know his duty, and particularly that herecommend that matter earnestly to Almighty God, and pray for light and direction.
“For whatever desire he may pretend of knowing the truth, if he does not use the propermeans for finding it, it is manifest that his ignorance is not invincible but voluntary;for ignorance is only invincible when one has a sincere desire to know the truth with afull resolution to embrace it, but either has no possible means of knowing it or, afterusing his best endeavors to know it, yet cannot find it.” (Nor does a formal doubtexcuse, for all are expected to resolve such doubts.) “A person brought up in a falsefaith, which the Scripture calls sects of perdition, doctrines of devils, perverse things,lies and hypocrisy; and who has heard of the true Church of Christ, which condemnsall these sects, and sees the divisions and dissensions which they constantly haveamong themselves, has always before his eyes the most cogent reasons to doubt of theway he is in.” It should be noted here, however, that Bishop Hay wrote before Pope Pius IX’s Singulari Quadam, discussed in Part I was issued, so therefore could not temper his teachings with that document. See also the Catholic Encyclopedia article on invincible ignorance at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07648a.htm.
“Now heresy, material heresy not excepted, is a want of this faith, on account of which the supernatural effects of baptism are suspended. God cannot unite himself with a soul that lives in heresy, even though it be only material heresy. As the supernatural sanctifying effects in this case are suspended, so they are for the same reason, destroyed in him who was baptized in his infancy and became a heretic, though only a material heretic, when he came to the use of reason. This person, to be again reconciled with God, must renounce heresy, believe the Catholic Church, and receive worthily the sacrament of penance; or if this cannot be had, he must have perfect contrition or charity with the desire (at least implicit) to receive the sacrament of penance,” (Fr. Michael Muller, “The Catholic Dogma”).
Revs. Sabetti and Barrett, Compendium of Moral Theology: “A material heretic…errs through invincible ignorance… He must be considered as only a material heretic 1) Who is prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church as soon as he knows it; 2) who, being born among heretics, knows nothing of the true faith and has never doubted his own religion; 3) who although doubting, has endeavored to learn the truth so far as he was able, but has not yet reached it. He must be reputed a formal heretic: 1) Who doubts, but from obstinacy does not wish to inquire further; 2) who again, because of obstinacy, willfully turns his intellect away from the motives of truth so that he may adhere to his own sect; 3) who although knowing the truth, still contradicts the Church… ‘If anyone after receiving Baptism and retaining the name Christian obstinately denies or calls into question any of the truths that must be believed with Divine and Catholic faith, he is a heretic,” (Can. 1325).
“… Practically there is no difficulty about censure for the sin of abortion or any other offense which the Code of Canon Law punishes with a censure, because ignorance excuses from censures (See Canon 2229, paragraph 1), and it is reasonable to assume that ordinarily the convert was ignorant of the regulations of the Church. One may object and ask why then must we insist on absolving from censure because of heresy when the convert knows nothing more about that censure than he knows of other censures. There is a difference between a public profession of faith contrary to the teaching of the Church and sins committed in one’s private life. The one is a public affair; the other is a matter of conscience only. In public violations of the rules of the Church the public authority cannot but judge that the violation was done with full knowledge, and the burden of proof that it was done in good faith rests with the one who appears to be guilty. In many instances he may not be able to prove good faith, and he will be considered guilty,” (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Volume 34, Number 7, page 743-4, April 1934).
It is important to make the distinction here that as soon as one who is a member of the Church learns the truth, he must accept it. Those intended in (2) of Sabetti-Barrett’s comments on material heresy are mentioned as being born among heretics, but while this describes Traditionalists, it cannot be said at all that they “know nothing of the true faith.” It is precisely because they, like the Anglicans, are closer to the true faith that their errors are more culpable, since they do know and accept some truths of faith. (In Pascendi, Pope St. Pius X also notes that because of their closeness to the truth they are more dangerous.) Note from the above that a material heretic may be one who “has endeavored to learn the truth so far as he was able, but has not yet reached it.” If they are trying to understand the faith and are progressing, we may have hope they can be saved by baptism of desire if not validly baptized, but they still remain outside the Church, though connected to it in a way that does not exclude their salvation. If validly baptized, they are considered formal heretics under Can. 1325 if they obstinately doubt or deny the truths of faith after two or three warnings, even if only from the faithful. Why? Because this is the teaching of Christ set out in Holy Scripture for all to observe, not just the hierarchy. The following article from the Catholic Encyclopedia on this topic gives all the necessary particulars, (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/f.htm).
So are we saying all heretics are damned?
“Now it may well happen that adverse external circumstances may prevent a man’s character as an incorporated member of the Church being recognized, and the absence of such recognition may involve the juridical denial of all that it involves. In the eyes of men he may appear to have broken the bond uniting him to the Church, and yet, because of the supernatural faith, and the persistent loving life of grace, whereby he seeks in all things to do the will of God, his union with the Church really continues: spiritually he remains a member of the Church, he belongs to the body of the Church. He may, all the time, through error, be giving his external adhesion to a religious society which cannot be part of the Church. But at heart, by internal and implicit allegiance, he may be a faithful member of the Church,”(written by the Right Rev. Msgr. Can. Edward Myers, M.A. Taken from The Teaching of the Catholic Church, by Can. George D. Smith, D.D., Ph.D., Vol. II; 1959).
Rev. MacKenzie explains that this can happen if one really does not know that something denied or doubted is actually a revealed truth one is bound to believe in. Then they are guilty only of human error. Or if a person is ignorant of the law, and the fact that some words or deeds would exclude him from membership in the Church, then this is not necessarily heresy if such a person was raised in a non-Catholic household or received very little religious instruction. Basically, what is required for heresy to BE more than simple heresy is that it be sufficiently manifested to be recognized as such (that is, public) and that it furthermore, in the case of Traditionalists, is accompanied by public cooperation in a non-Catholic sect. MacKenzie defines heresy as “error which is consciously and deliberately conceived by excluding the evidence which would otherwise lead to a true judgment.”
Traditionalists have done this for years concerning revealed truths such as the absolute necessity of jurisdiction for absolution (Trent; Canon Law), the necessity of the papacy to grant such jurisdiction (The Vatican Council, Mystici Corporis), Church teaching concerning grace and other revealed truths. If the evidence confirming these truths is readily available and they ignore it, and it has been for quite some time, and if they are validly baptized they may easily be formal heretics. We are not going to judge them as such unless they are truly incorrigible, for material heresy is sufficient to deprive them of Church membership. But we are not going to give them a pass as baptized non-Catholics not all that familiar with the faith, either, since certainly some of them are far more knowledgeable concerning the faith than most validly baptized Protestants and have far greater access to the truth now, thanks to the Internet and other media, than ever was available to those in the past.
We are judging no one as damned; anyone can repent of their sins and be saved before death. But unfortunately it has been this author’s experience that many of them are simply not in good faith. Msgr. Myers did not consider the vast majority of such individuals in good faith many decades ago. He notes in his treatise on the Mystical Body: “The continual stressing of the ‘good faith’ of those who are unfortunately out of visible communion with us, does seem to undermine the traditional horror of heresy and of heretics, replacing it by a horror of ‘heresiarchs’; it seems to a premium on muddle-headedness, and to reserve the stigma of heresy for the clear-headed ones. After all, the malice of heresy lies in the rending of the Body of Christ: what our Lord meant to be one, heretics, even material heretics, divide. They may be in good faith — and that good faith will at some moment lead them to see what they had not seen before — but the fact remains that their error or ignorance, however inculpable, retards the edification of the Body of Christ. Even the claims of Charity should not blind us to the importance of growth in the knowledge of objective truth, as contrasted with the limitations of error, however well-meaning it may be.” And that knowledge of objective truth includes the ability to identify heresy as opposed to truth, for how else could we possibly be able to define the parameters of our faith?
Catholics would do well, after all, to remember that there are such things as sins against the Holy Ghost, and that one of these is resisting the known truth. For these sins, the Church teaches, there is no forgiveness if one is to die unrepentant. According to St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa, “Augustine says…(De Serm. Dom. in Monte xxii), that ‘to resist fraternal goodness with the brands of envy is to sin against the Holy Ghost,’ and in his book De unico Baptismo (De Bap. contra Donat. vi, 35) he says that ‘a man who spurns the truth, is either envious of his brethren to whom the truth is revealed, or ungrateful to God, by Whose inspiration the Church is taught,’ and therefore, seemingly, sins against the Holy Ghost, (Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 14, Art. 1).” Perhaps then it might be easier to understand why it is that remaining Catholics today should be so insistent on denouncing errors opposed to Church teaching by correcting their brethren, and so diligent in avoiding the writings and persons of those who continue to spread these errors after being corrected.
Dangers to faith from heretics
Because we daily mingle with heretics, we have become desensitized to the dangers they pose and many believe themselves immune to those dangers because they know their faith so well. But this is a deadly misconception. None of us today know our faith half as well as a Catholic 100 or 200 years ago, and what many of us do know is tainted by the fact that we cannot relate as Catholics with others in the modern world. A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth and it takes only one bad apple to spoil the barrel. These are realities we tend to forget. It doesn’t matter if we correspond with them through email or read their missives, the poison can enter in a number of ways.
Indiscriminate reading is only one of these ways, Rev. John Kearney tells us in his Our Greatest Treasure, (Benziger Bros., 1942). He explains how such reading is “prejudicial to the faith. Their tendency is to weaken it imperceptibly…in very small doses.” The same is true with indiscriminate discussions with non-Catholics, who often only wish to argue or entrap. “It is one thing to be able to know the teaching of the Church, another to be able to defend it,” he writes. Belonging to non-Catholic societies is another danger. Limiting our discussions and association solely to those truly interested in the faith or fellow Catholics is our surest bet of safeguarding the faith. Wrangling with Traditionalists or the conservative Novus Ordo crowd is a sure way to foster doubt and even rejection of the faith.
Rev. Kearney especially warns of “the danger that comes from the good people we see outside the Church. By this we are tempted to underrate the gift of faith. Against this danger…we should endeavor to fill our imagination with the magnificence of the sanctity of the Church as seen in the never-ceasing heroic supernatural sanctity of her saints…All that seems good is not profitable to salvation; it is not acceptable to God. Cardinal Newman, who lived until his midlife with good people outside the Church writes of them: ‘In spite of so much good that is in them, in spite of their sense of duty, their tenderness of conscience on many points, their benevolence, their uprightness, their generosity, they are under the dominion (I must say it) of a proud fiend; they have this stout spirit within them, they determine to be their own masters in the matter of thought, about which they know so little; they consider their own reason better than anyone else’s; they will not admit that anyone comes from God who contradicts their own view of truth.’”
It is this trap today that is the biggest danger to the faith. Many are so entranced by the perceived goodness of those close to them, or who have grown close to them over time with their permission, that they allow this to color their perception of the faith. They are so enamored of them they even begin to compromise the teachings of the Church to make excuses to allow their relationships with them to continue. When cautioned about the danger of such relationships they often lash out at their Catholic friends. There are many other dangers to the faith posed by heretics and schismatics, but these are the dangers most common today.
Exercising fraternal correction
The references to superiors noted in the encyclopedia article on fraternal correction are nearly all without application today. However, since those Catholics left on earth are ordered by Pope Pius XII to act in the stead of the hierarchy, and the “correction” involves public heresy, hence public scandal, we may proceed as described in Part I. Even Delaney in his Catholic Encyclopedia article admits one must correct another in material heresy giving scandal to a third party or injuring him/herself. This applies to all Traditionalists and other non-Catholics. And it is important to note here the entire quote from St. Matthew, Ch. 18: “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. 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,” (vs. 15-17). In our case, we are acting as the only available visible members of the Church. We are not judging anyone of sin in correcting them, or judging them incapable of obtaining salvation; we would be issuing precepts. We are only observing that according to the law (Can. 2200), they have placed themselves outside the Church. As we have repeatedly explained on this site, the word “Church” refers primarily to the pope, and all that he teaches. In his absence, Catholics acting as the hierarchy can only point to his teachings and to those theologians who (faithfully) explain them. If the offender will not “hear the Church” in those teachings, then we must avoid him or her, while praying for their conversion.
Rev. William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold, in their The Catholic Dictionary (1884), offer us a surprising definition of the word “hierarchy.” After giving the usual definition offered by the Church, that the hierarchy consists of bishops, priests, and the pope, they state: “In a wide and loose sense, when the whole Catholic Church is considered as existing among heretics, schismatics and the heathen, even the laity may be considered as forming a portion of the hierarchy. With this agrees the expression of St. Peter, calling the general body of Christians in the country to which he is sending his epistles, ‘a kingly priesthood’ and a ‘holy nation.’” This statement is confirmed by Pope Pius XII in his address on “The Mission of the Catholic Woman,” (Sept. 29, 1957, The Pope Speaks). In this address he tells lay Catholics that, in the absence of the hierarchy, such as occurred behind the Iron Curtain and in other countries where the hierarchy was exiled, the laity “must, with God’s grace, assume all [the hierarchy’s] responsibilities.” We cannot act as pope, but we are bound to abide by his teachings and see that others calling themselves Catholic do the same. This was the mission of the hierarchy. And given Pope Pius XII’s directive, we sin by remaining silent out of false humility, or because Traditionalists condemn us for speaking out when we are not clergy.
As one theologian has noted: “[It is a grave moral fault] if, in meetings of the council, you keep quiet out of ignorance or malice and thus withhold the truth from the other advisers. Likewise, during a court hearing, if you see someone make a fraudulent accusation or be unjustly condemned, you will sin… Likewise, when you perceive that a word to edify, instruct, exhort or correct someone is necessary, you commit a sin if you withhold that wholesome advice,” (Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum quadruplex sive speculum maius, Graz, Akademische Druck-Verlagsanstalt, 1964, col. 1228). Comments by the editor of Beauvais’ work: “This command is directed primarily to the hierarchs and clerks who keep quiet. Nevertheless, their defection obliges all laymen to speak up, since Vincent de Beauvais, cited below, uses the adverb especially when referring to the Prelates, which means that those who are not vested with priestly dignity have an analogous duty.” In administering fraternal correction, the quotes below should prove that we do not step outside our bounds, but only obey the dictates cited above. We also are forbidden to remain silent under Can. 1325, which requires us to profess our faith, whenever “silence, subterfuge or manner of acting” would indicate approval of error.
Popes, Councils and doctors speak out on heresy
First Council of Constantinople, Canon 7, 381
“Those who embrace orthodoxy and join the number of those who are being saved from the heretics … these we receive when they hand in statements and anathematize every heresy which is not of the same mind as the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God.”
(Heresy is not forgiven or atoned for unless this anathematization takes place; see Canons 2242 and 2313.)
Council of Ephesus, 431
“All heretics corrupt the true expressions of the Holy Ghost with their own evil minds and they draw down on their own heads an inextinguishable flame.”
Second Council of Constantinople, 553
“The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy…What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned…It is clear to all believers that when a problem about the faith comes up, it is not only the heretical person who is condemned but also the person who is in a position to correct the heresy of others and fails to do so.”
(This should clarify for everyone that the excommunication of a heretic is automatic and there is no need at all for a declaration; also that failure to identify and correct such a person for committing public heresy results in the condemnation of the one bound to correct as well. This Pope Paul IV teaches in Cum ex… and Pope Pius IX teaches in Etsi multa.)
Pope Pelagius I, died 561
“So that they may burn without end, the Lord by a very just judgment will give over to the punishment of eternal and inextinguishable fire the wicked who either did not know the way of the Lord or, knowing it, left it.”
Lateran Council, Pope Saint Martin I, Canon 18, 649
“If anyone according to the holy Fathers, harmoniously with us and likewise with the Faith, does not with mind and lips reject and anathematize all the most abominable heretics together with their impious writings even to one least portion, whom the Holy Catholic and apostolic Church of God … rejects and anathematizes … let such a person be condemned.”
(Deviation from the faith in even a minor way is also punishable with automatic excommunication, as Can. 2200 demonstrates in determining that the material heretic is outside the Church.)
Fourth Council of Constantinople, Canon 4, 870
“We condemn, with a just decree, him who boldly, cunningly and unlawfully, like a dangerous wolf, leapt into the sheepfold of Christ; we are speaking about Photius, who has filled the whole world with a thousand upheavals and disturbances. We declare that he never was nor is now a bishop, nor must those, who were consecrated or given advancement by him to any grade of the priesthood, remain in that state.”
(In 858 Emperor Michael III deported Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople, who had been patriarch since 847. Photius, a layman, was elected to replace him, and contrary to canonical rules was hurriedly consecrated a bishop within one week. One of the consecrating bishops was Gregory Asbestos of Syracuse, whom Patriarch Ignatius had condemned and deposed. Later Pope Nicholas I deposed him and restored Ignatius as Patriarch at Constantinople. Please also see Charitas and Etsi multa below)
Pope Alexander III, Lateran Council III, 1179, Canon 27
“We likewise decree… that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the Church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy.”
(They must abjure their heresy publicly, recant and repent, also do penance for their sins, in order to be received back into the Church.)
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, died 1274
“All those who deny one article of faith, regardless of their reason, are by that very fact excommunicated.”
(Thus the meaning ipso facto — “by the fact itself.”)
Council of Florence, Session 11, 4 February 1442
“The Holy Roman Church … condemns, reproves, anathematizes and declares to be outside the body of Christ, which is the Church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views.”
(No qualification here of whether the sin of heresy is actually committed as in material heresy: if the views are held, one is outside the Church.)
Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 8, 1513
“And since truth cannot contradict truth, we define that every statement contrary to the enlightened truth of the faith is totally false and we strictly forbid teaching otherwise to be permitted. We decree that all those who cling to erroneous statements of this kind, thus sowing heresies which are wholly condemned, should be avoided in every way and punished as detestable and odious heretics and infidels who are undermining the Catholic faith.”
St. Robert Bellarmine, cardinal, 1542-1621
De Romano Pontifice, Bk. 2, Chap. 40:
“There is no basis for that which some respond to this: that these Fathers based themselves on ancient law, while nowadays, by decree of the Council of Constance, they alone lose their jurisdiction who are excommunicated by name or who assault clerics. This argument, I say, has no value at all, for those Fathers, in affirming that heretics lose jurisdiction, did not cite any human law, which furthermore perhaps did not exist in relation to the matter, but argued on the basis of the very nature of heresy. The Council of Constance only deals with the excommunicated, that is, those who have lost jurisdiction by sentence of the Church, while heretics already before being excommunicated are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction. For they have already been condemned by their own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3:10-11), that is, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as St. Jerome affirms…
“All the ancient Fathers…teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [i.e. antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: “He would not be able to retain the episcopate [i.e. of Rome], and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.’…
“The Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are ipso facto deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity …Saint Nicholas I (epist. Ad Michael) repeats and confirms the same. Finally, Saint Thomas also teaches (II-II, Q39, A3) that schismatics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null,” (http://www.cmri.org/02-bellarmine-roman-pontiff.html. (This link is placed merely for purposes of attribution; no endorsement of this site is hereby intended.)
De Romano Pontifice, Bk. 2, Chap. 30, et al:
“Then two years later came the lapse of Liberius, of which we have spoken above. Then indeed the Roman clergy, stripping Liberius of his pontifical dignity, went over to Felix, whom they knew [then] to be a Catholic. From that time, Felix began to be the true Pontiff. For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.”
(Here St. Robert is repeating the principles of Can. 2200, which Cum ex… had already placed in operation even in his time. We then must consider material heretics as heretics simpliciter by their external works, because we are not able to consult the Roman Pontiff. However, if we attempt correction by presenting papal documents and condemnations from general councils and they refuse to accept the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs controverting their heresy, we can only turn them over to the Church.
Pope St. Pius V, 1566-1572: Errors of Michael du Bay
“That is not true obedience of the law which is done without charity,” (DZ 1016; condemned as heretical, erroneous, suspect, rash, scandalous, offensive to pious ears).
Pope Alexander VII, 1655-1667: Various Errors on Moral Matters
“Although it is evidently established by you that Peter is a heretic, you are not bound to denounce [him] if you cannot prove it,” (DZ 1105; condemned as prohibited and at least as scandalous. See DZ 1820 below. We must denounce the heresy and leave ‘Peter’ to the Church authorities, or in our present situation, to God.)
Pope Pius VI, Charitas, April 13, 1791
“They must not grant dimissorial letters for ordinations. Nor must they appoint, depute, or confirm pastors, vicars, missionaries, helpers, functionaries, ministers, or others, whatever their title, for the care of souls and the administration of the Sacraments under any pretext of necessity whatsoever… For We declare and proclaim publicly that all their dimissorial letters and deputations or confirmations, past and future, as well as all their rash proceedings and their consequences, are utterly void and without force…”
Pope Pius VI, Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, 1794
“Likewise, the proposition which teaches that it is necessary, according to the natural and divine laws, for either excommunication or for suspension, that a personal examination should precede, and that, therefore, sentences called ‘ipso facto’ have no other force than that of a serious threat without any actual effect — false, rash, pernicious, injurious to the power of the Church.”
Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December 1854
“Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church …”
(No need for a declaratory sentence in order to assume heresy is committed.)
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, 1869-70, Sess. 3
“But since it is not sufficient to shun heretical iniquity unless those errors also are shunned which come more or less close to it, we remind all of the duty of observing also the constitutions and decrees by which base opinions of this sort, which are not enumerated explicitly here, have been proscribed and prohibited by this Holy See,” (DZ 1820).
Vatican Council of 1869-70, Sess. 3, Chapter 3 On Faith
Further, by Divine and Catholic Faith all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in Her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as Divinely revealed,” (DZ 1792).
Vatican Council of 1869-70, Sess. 2, Profession of Faith, Article 14
“Likewise all other things which have been transmitted, defined and declared by the sacred canons and the ecumenical councils, especially the sacred Trent, I accept unhesitatingly and profess; in the same way whatever is to the contrary, and whatever heresies have been condemned, rejected and anathematized by the Church, I too condemn, reject and anathematize.”
(So here we are required also to “accept unhesitatingly and profess” not only the teachings of the ecumenical councils but also the SACRED CANONS, or canon law, which are primarily comprised of teachings from papal documents according to Rev. Amleto Cicognani, the Catholic Encyclopedia, et al. This should forever silence those who hold of little value or effect the laws of the 1917 Code.)
Pope Pius IX, Nov. 21, 1873, encyclical Etsi Multa
“24. But these men, having progressed more boldly in the ways of wickedness and destruction, as happens to heretical sects from God’s just judgment, have wished to create a hierarchy also for themselves…They have chosen and set up a pseudo-bishop, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith, Joseph Humbert Reinkens. So that nothing be lacking in their impudence, for his consecration they have had refuge to those very Jansenists of Utrecht, whom they themselves, before they separated from the Church, considered as heretics and schismatics, as do all other Catholics…
“Therefore following the custom and example of Our Predecessors and of holy legislation, by the power granted to Us from heaven, We declare the election of the said Joseph Humbert Reinkens, performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void… We additionally excommunicate whoever has adhered to them and belonging to their party has furnished help, favor, aid, or consent. We declare, proclaim, and command that they are separated from the communion of the Church. They are to be considered among those with whom all faithful Christians are forbidden by the Apostle to associate and have social exchange to such an extent that, as he plainly states, they may not even be greeted.”
Pius IX’s Graves Ac Diurturnae (On The Church In Switzerland)March 23, 1875
“The serious and long-lasting plots and efforts which the new heretics who call themselves Old Catholics use daily in your country to deceive the faithful and to tear them away from their ancient faith, urge Us, as a duty of Our supreme apostolate, to zealously devote Our paternal care and attention to protecting the spiritual welfare of our children… Because it has always been especially characteristic of heretics and schismatics to use lies and deception, these sons of darkness are to be reckoned among those the prophet spoke of: ‘Woe to you deserting children who have faith in the shadow of Egypt. You have rejected the word and have hoped in trickery and rebellion.’
“They love to deceive the unwary and the innocent and to draw them into error by deception and hypocrisy. They repeatedly state openly that they do not in the least reject the Catholic Church and its visible head but rather that they are zealous for the purity of Catholic doctrine declaring that they are the heirs of the ancient faith and the only true Catholics. But in fact they refuse to acknowledge all the divine prerogatives of the vicar of Christ on earth and do not submit to His supreme magisterium…
“You should remind them to beware of these treacherous enemies of the flock of Christ and their poisoned foods. They should totally shun their religious celebrations, their buildings, and their chairs of pestilence which they have with impunity established to transmit the sacred teachings. They should shun their writings and all contact with them. They should not have any dealings or meetings with usurping priests and apostates from the faith who dare to exercise the duties of an ecclesiastical minister without possessing a legitimate mission or any jurisdiction. They should avoid them as strangers and thieves who come only to steal, slay, and destroy.”
(To bring this into perspective, substitute Traditional Catholics for Old Catholics in the first paragraph and we have a very frighteningly accurate description of the situation today. See Pope Leo below in Satis Cognitum.)
Henry Cardinal Manning
“And therefore it is that every one who has in him the gift of piety has also an instinctive hatred of heresy. The instinct which detests and recoils from heresy is part of the gift of piety, because piety loves the revealed truth of Jesus Christ. We are thought to be intolerant and bigoted, because we will keep no peace with heresy. But how can any man love Jesus Christ, and not love every jot and title of His truth? And if we love His truth, that which contradicts it must be hateful, for it contradicts Himself. And therefore, though we are to be tolerant towards the persons of heretics, we are intolerant of the heresies themselves.
“There is no degree of aversion with which we may not lawfully look upon conscious contradiction of any divine truth. There is this distinction between the heretic and the heresy. The heresy we may deal with at once, with all peremptory severity; the heretic we leave to the judgment of God and of the Church. WE are not the judges of his guilt, because we cannot read the heart,” (“The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost,” 19th century. It must be remembered here that Card. Manning wrote before the inclusion of Can. 2200 in the 1917 Code.)
Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, Jan. 10, 1890
“Let everyone remember that he can and ought to sow the Catholic Faith by the authority of his example, and to teach it by continual profession. In the duties, then, that bind us to God and to His Church, this especially should be numbered, that the industry of everyone should be exercised, insofar as possible, in propagating Christian truth and in repelling error.”
(But how can error be reproved if it is not identified, and how can it be identified unless someone writes or speaks it? If “ONLY God” knows who are truly heretics, what possible defense can we have against them? How do we defend the truth if we cannot pinpoint and condemn error?)
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 29 June 1896, para. 9
“The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium…No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single heresy he is not a Catholic.”
(So while Traditionalists may pass under a different name, they are not immune from being labeled heretics simply because they surfaced after the usurpation of the Holy See began. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Kulturkampf, only reiterating the teachings of Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, is quite clear in identifying the Old Catholics with the Liberals: “Filled with ideas of ecclesiastical Liberalism and rejecting the Christian spirit of submission to the teachings of the Church, nearly 1,400 Germans issued, in September, 1870, a declaration in which they repudiated the dogma of Infallibility ‘as an innovation contrary to the traditional faith of the Church.’ They were encouraged by large numbers of scholars, politicians, and statesmen, and were acclaimed by the Liberal press of the whole world.”
Pope St. Pius X, Oath Against Modernism, 1908
“I accept sincerely the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us; and so I reject that heretical invention of the evolution of dogmas, passing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first had…”
Fideism and the errors of Lamenais
It is bad enough that today we must fight Liberalism on nearly every front and constantly guard against its insidious inroads. For it is this very Liberalism, spoken of above in reference to the Old Catholics that has thoroughly penetrated modern Traditionalism with its proud spirit. As Rev Sarda points out: “Liberal Catholicism… takes its root in a false conception of the nature of the act of faith. The Liberal Catholic assumes as the formal motive for the act of faith, not the infallible authority of God revealing supernatural truth but his own reason deigning to accept as true what appears rational to him according to the appreciation and measure of his own individual judgment. He subjects God’s authority to the scrutiny of his reason, and not his reason to God’s authority,” (Liberalism is a Sin). This was especially true of older Traditionalists who founded and grounded the movement in the 1970s, but today is not so true of their children and grandchildren. As so often happens with secular movements, the pendulum now has swung to the opposite side, error wise, and instead of substituting reason for God’s authority, second and third generation Traditionalists are quite happy to check their brains at the chapel door and allow their so-called clergy or lay leaders to do the thinking for them. This also results in heresy; the heresy of fideism.
Fideism, the Catholic Encyclopedia says, is “a philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority…Authority, which according to fideism is the rule of certitude, has its ultimate foundation in divine revelation, reserved and transmitted in all ages through society and manifested by tradition, common sense or some other agent of a social character…de Bonald… laid great stress on tradition in society as the means of the transmission of revelation and the criterion of certitude…Lamennais assigns as a rule of certitude the general reason (la raison générale) or common consent of the race…Fideism owes its origin to distrust in human reason, and the logical sequence of such an attitude is scepticism…Fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church has condemned such doctrines…In his Letter of 11 December, 1862, to the Archbishop of Munich, Pius IX, while condemning Frohschammer’s naturalism, affirms the ability of human reason to reach certitude concerning the fundamental truths of the moral and religious order (cf. Denzinger, 1666-1676).”
A one-sentence heading in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia defines the original Lamenais variety of Traditionalism as: “A philosophical system which makes tradition the supreme criterion and rule of certitude.” This heresy, related to Fideism, pretends that Catholics are imbued with a sense of divine revelation that will guide them in discerning truths of faith; that they need not study these truths to arrive at certitude concerning what is and is not revealed. Isn’t this the very attitude exhibited by those who claim that they need not determine if any given statement contains heresy for the Liberalism-inspired fear of offending one’s neighbor? We are not even attempting to determine a neighbor’s sin by identifying and obeying Church law regarding heresy, which we are bound to do. Pope Pius XII infallibly teaches in Mystici Corporis that “the cooperation of all [the Mystical Body’s] members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, be visible to the eyes of all…” So unless we observe these laws we are not members of the Church.
Speaking primarily of marriage cases in 1942, Pope Pius XII told judges that even when the law does not require it, it may be wise for the judge to “not be satisfied with a low degree of certitude, especially in cases of great importance.” As long as that “grade of certitude is attained which corresponds to the requirements of law and the importance of the case,” this is sufficient, (Canon Law Digest Vol. III, Can. 1869; AAS 34-338; emph. mine) This document is a statement issuing from the ordinary magisterium, and Humani Generis states all binding documents can be found in the Acta Apostolica Sedis, (AAS). The importance of obtaining certitude in our case is the highest possible, because it concerns matters of faith. Therefore, one must not rely on a low degree of certitude, but formal certitude.
“Formal certitude is a firm assent (or dissent) based on motives which are in themselves infallible and are known to be infallible…Now only an infallible motive excludes the very possibility of error…Therefore only an infallible motive is a sufficient guarantee for the (logical) truth of a judgment…A guide is not called infallible because there is no special reason for doubting his knowledge or because it is highly improbable he will lead us astray…We call a motive or reason for judging infallible only when it cannot lead us into error,” (Cotter). It is the only basis on which we may judge the existence of objective truth or error. To deny that we must arrive at certitude in such matters is to pretend that we may ignore scholastic philosophy, the only philosophic method the Church endorses. Denial that certitude is necessary also is a heresy condemned by Pope Clement VI. “That through natural appearances, as it were, no certainty can be had regarding things,” (DZ 553). And “That in any demonstrated matter whatever no one knows clearly that in truth it surpasses all others in nobility,” (DZ 562; both propositions condemned as false, dangerous, presumptuous, erroneous and heretical). As Rev. Amleto Cicognani observed: “The common good demands certitude concerning the validity of acts,” (Canon Law, 1935). God is not the only one who may know what is heresy; He and his ministers are the only ones who can judge it.
In other words, we can and we must obtain formal certitude to protect the common good and enforce those laws that were written for this purpose, laws that Pope Pius IX and the Vatican Council, also Pope Pius XII, teach we are bound to accept and profess. Therefore we must never fail to refute those heresies directly opposed to an infallible teaching of the Roman Pontiff. To protect the faithful, the Church allows us to judge heresy; what She does not allow is for us to presume God’s mercy in the face of a possible danger to the faith; that never. This would be to spit in God’s face for a possible offense committed directly against Him, when to condemn the offense, even if unintended, is what we must do. As Rev. Sarda says so eloquently above: “The good of all good is the divine good, just as God is for all men the neighbor of neighbors…the love due to a man ought always to be subordinated to that due…to Our Lord. The degree of our offense towards men can only be measured by the degree of our obligation to Him…Therefore to offend our neighbor for the love of God is a true act of charity. Not to offend our neighbor for the love of God is a sin.”
And so we end where we began. To avoid the man-centeredness of the Novus Ordo and Traditionalism, God and His rights must come first. Heresy and schism are offenses against God, ourselves, and our neighbor that we ignore at our own peril.