Medice, cura teipsum or the Sedevacantophobia of Fr. Stehlin
If the doctor does not know a given disease, how can he authoritatively propose a cure? And when he himself is so sick (incurably?) that he considers sick the healthy patient, then we have a tragic situation indeed. It would be better for healthy people to avoid such a “doctor”, so that he himself would not accidentally (on purpose?) infect them.
The most recent issue of “Zawsze wierni”1 does not excel in accurate judgments and proper conclusions, as it was already to be seen with respect to the “Escape into Dreams” text2. As it was to be expected, in the description written in language characteristic rather of a charismatic presbyter than a thomistic author, there was place for the pestilence, cholera, ulcers, virus, bacteria of the terribly contagious sedevacantism. Due to the frightening appearance of a human being struck by this exceptionally infectious physico-psychic disease, Fr. Stehlin, in the role of a “doctor”, conducts once again a scaring therapy. In the article entitled “Who standeth, let him take heed lest he fall” available on the Internet (it is again possible to save a few zlotys), one can savor the seemingly “scholarly analysis” and the proposed treatment:
12. The “Orphan Disease” – this is either secret or manifest sedevacantism which consists in the fact that unauthorized people ascribe to themselves the competencies which in reality they do not have. The proponents of this theory claim to have the right to pronounce categorical judgments in matters in which they neither have the objective competencies nor did they receive an appropriate mandate from Church authorities for issuing such important statements. Persons who succumbed to this disease affirm with a 100% certitude that they know since when the Apostolic See is vacant and the Catholic Church devoid of its visible Head.
Before passing on to the crux of the matter, that is, whether a heretic, a schismatic or an apostate can validly hold ecclesiastical office, one must observe the confusion of notions laying at the basis of this antisedevacantist rhetoric of our “doctor”. For, no sedevacantism, neither the secret one of some of Fr. Stehlin’s fellow priests, who do not celebrate the Holy Mass in union with Bergoglio, nor the manifest one of the honest sedevacantists, consists in ascribing to oneself the competencies of the pope or a bishop in union with the pope, among which also the right to issue judgments, pronouncements and laws obliging all the faithful of the Church or a given diocese. Contrary to the SSPX, sedevacantists are not usurpers of jurisdiction (e.g. in issuing canonical monitions, excommunicating the faithful, or denying them sacraments or entry into a chapel or a church3).
Fr. Stehlin simply mixes up notions confusing a simple certain judgment (which he calls “categorical”) as the second operation of the intellect (iudicium) and the judgment as the decree of a legitimate superior having the authority to judge. Every man mastering his rational faculties, precisely on the account of his rational nature, is able to formulate certain judgments based on notions (apprehensio simplex, the first operation of the intellect) and the predicate (the verb esse, to be). And, based on certain judgments he is able to formulate reasonings (syllogismus, the third operation of the intellect), the conclusions of which are also certain. This is one of the first lessons of logic in any normal philosophy teaching program.
However, judgment in the sense of a juridical verdict does indeed require the appropriate office which provides a given person with the right to oblige his subjects. This is not usurped by any Catholic recognizing the present vacancy of the Apostolic See4, contrarily to members of the SSPX. It is possible, though, to reach a 100% certitude in a judgment founded upon certain premises without possessing the authority to oblige others by it.
Having made these elementary distinctions, a closer analysis of the proposed treatment will help us notice who really needs to be cured:
Treatment is difficult, because it requires above all the domination of pride. One must – as St. Maximilian suggested (if St. Maximilian, then why not St. John Paul II? Does the author usurp to himself the attributes of the proximate rule of faith in the domain of elevating to the altars??? – Pelagius) – imitate Jesus Christ, who “for 30 years was obedient to His Most Holy Mother, St. Joseph and said that he always fulfills His Father’s will.” One must perseveringly hold on to the teaching of the Church, stay in the ranks of the servants of Catholic Tradition and maintain a resistance to the action of the “false prophets”. The founder of Niepokalanów5 taught: “The most that can be done for the cause of the Immaculate is by a person who perfectly, as perfectly as possible, fulfills God’s will in everything” (Conferences…, p. 117), while Abp. Lefebvre said: “Christianity is dependence on God” (Sermons…, p. 225).
If we are at what Abp. Lefebvre said, I propose one of many citation of the French prelate who admitted himself the truth of the sedevacantist position:
“The question is therefore definitive: is Paul VI, has Paul VI ever been, the successor of Peter? If the reply is negative: Paul VI has never been, or no longer is, pope, our attitude will be that of sede vacante periods, which would simplify the problem. Some theologians say that this is the case, relying on the statements of theologians of the past, approved by the Church, who have studied the problem of the heretical pope, the schismatic pope or the pope who in practice abandons his charge of supreme Pastor. It is not impossible that this hypothesis will one day be confirmed by the Church.” Ecône, February 24, 1977, Answers to Various Burning Questions (more citations)
Nevertheless this is not at all about relying on the authority of Abp. Lefebvre, incompetent on the subject, who himself was an example of indecision in this matter (because he simply did not study it), but rather about taking a closer look at the pronouncements of those Popes, Doctors of the Church, Saints and authorized theologians who indeed said that a heretic, schismatic and apostate cannot be validly elected for any Church office (not being a member of the Church in the first place) and loses it automatically were he to fall into one of these sins against the faith. As Pope Pius XII teaches in his encyclical Mystici Corporis:
“For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.” (nr. 23)
Whether the modernist hierarchy has really committed heresy (religious freedom, ecumenism and others condemned by earlier Magisterium of the Church), or schism (the creation of a new “conciliar church”), or apostasy (vide Assisi, etc.), it is enough to consult the better publications of the SSPX itself, of which our “doctor” is a member himself. One needs not to be a competent theologian in order to see in how many points members of the hierarchy of the modernist newchurch deviate from Catholic orthodoxy.
So then, does a public heretic, schismatic or apostate really lose Church office, and this without the necessity of any binding declaration? It suffices to recall here the theological conclusion of St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, whose authority on the matter of the supreme office in the Church was recognized by the Fathers of the Vatican Council (I), the same council that proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility. Having analyzed (again these “scholarly analyses”6) a few opinions of earlier theologians, St. Bellarmine concludes:
“Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases automatically (per se) to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian (i.e. a Catholic) and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers (of the Church), who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.” De Romano Pontifice II, 30
As it can be seen, this is “the opinion of all the ancient Fathers” of the Church, moreover two Popes have pronounced themselves the same way: Innocent III and Paul IV. The latter foresaw the possibility of the election of a heretic to the Petrine Office and in conformity with divine law declared that such an election would be invalid in the bull Cum ex Apostolatus. Other saints and canonists authorized by the Church expressed themselves on a similar note. In case of doubt I recommend a little compilation of citations from Church authorities: “The Church on a «Pope Heretic»” (which I complete regularly). Are all these Church authorities infected way in advance with the “orphan disease”? On the contrary, one can rather formulate a “categorical judgment” that sedevacantism has the right to boast of good health inherited from these theologically eminently healthy personages.
Because Fr. Stehlin maintains, “secretly or manifestly” that he himself is not infected with the “orphan disease”, but faithfully recognizes the primacy and authority of Bergoglio, of whom right from the start he was an uncommon apologist7, it is useful to recall (remind our “doctor”) another fragment of the excellent encyclical of Pope Pius XII:
“That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.” (nr. 40-41)
And what was it that Boniface VIII so solemnly declared in his 1302 bull? “Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus dicimus, definimus et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis”, that is: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Denz. 469).
True, who stands, let him take heed indeed lest he fall. But he who fell, let him get back up as quickly as possible.
Medice, cura teipsum!
Pelagius of Asturias
Translated and adapted from the Polish original. Notes to the English version:
1. “Zawsze wierni”: the Polish SSPX publication, translated as “Always Faithful”, in Latin “Semper fideles”. This article was written in response to the November/December issue. There is a more recent January/February issue.
2. This is a different article from the same issue of the SSPX publication, an article full of errors about jurisdiction written by a ex-Good Shepherd Institute false priest (ordained by Mr. Schneider), now in the process of joining the SSPX. He talks there of submission to legitimate superiors, etc.
3. These are links to my two articles and translation of Fr. Nitoglia’s letter which treat of just a few recent examples of the usurpation of jurisdiction by SSPX superiors.
4. Since I wrote the original Polish article I found out there were some sedevacantist clergy usurping jurisdiction. This however is a marginal problem compared to the examples brought forth in note 3.
5. Niepokalanówis the town where Fr. Maximilian Kolbe founded his Marian works. With regards to Fr. Kolbe, “canonized” by the Vatican II apostate JPII, obviously no one is denying his saintly life but the problem here is the sifting typical of the SSPX. Their superior in Poland treats Fr. Kolbe as a canonized saint. Why not then acknowledge, with his Novus Ordo “canonizers”, Fr. de Balaguer or JPII to be saints as well?
6. In a June 2012 conference, in order to discredit all those who are not following the official SSPX party line and public propaganda regarding SSPX-Rome relations, Fr. Stehlin calls all “incorrect” speculations on the Internet “scholarly analyses”. I like to take up the term whenever speaking of any theory or speculation not in conformity with Fr. Stehlin’s ideas.
7. The link opens an article in which two early apologists of Papa Buongiorno were evaluated, a lay conservative writer and Fr. Stehlin himself. Worthy of note is that the latter has been capable, since that time, of criticizing her “pope” while the former is in awe and not able to do so.