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Alan Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am 56, Catholic with a family, and live in the USA and have a question.

Some believe that the Second beast of Revelation (aka the False Prophet) will be a Pope (or an anti-pope, if you will). I was told by a Catholic priest (now deceased) that St. Thomas Aquinas taught that a Pope can teach heresy . . . but . . . as soon as the heretical words are uttered from his mouth, he is excommunicated automatically (latae sententiae).

One has to wonder if this is true in light of the pronouncements of Vatican I on Papal Infallibility when teaching universally on Faith and Morals.

I am looking for official Catholic teaching on this matter. The closest that I have been able to find is the Summa Theologica:

I would like to know what the official teaching of the Church is with respect to this matter, and obtain the details of the teaching in question. Internet links are always appreciated.

  • Can you help me, please?

Thanking you in advance, I am . . .

Very truly yours,

Alan

  { Is there an official teaching of the Church on what the Second beast of Revelation will be? }

Eric replied:

Hi Alan,

I am unaware of an official Catholic teaching on this matter. There might be some opinions of canonists. Perhaps my colleagues can come up with something. Here is my personal opinion.

Claiming that the pope is automatically excommunicated (and presumably no longer pope) introduces an intractable problem.

  • Who judges whether the pope is in heresy and thus automatically excommunicated?
  • Can an individual just decide that the pope has uttered heresy, declare that he is no longer pope, and disobey him?

Many people today have followed this principle and said that John XXIII taught heresy and so was no longer pope, and they've elected their own anti-popes to succeed him or else have declared that the See of Peter has been vacant since then (Sedevacantism).

I do not therefore see this as a viable solution but I don't know of any alternative views advanced by the Church, by canonists, or by theologians.

Sorry, I can't be of any more help.

Eric

Alan replied:

Hi Eric.

Thank you for your reply.

Please understand that I do not have the answers. Quite a bit is being discussed and published about Catholic eschatology these days. I am a Catholic (in good standing) who believes that Jesus will return soon . . . in our time.

This is an issue that has been raised . . . for which I have no answer. I have read what Vatican I had to say, and believe it to be true. I am referring to Papal infallibility . . . but . . . the Council also stated that Catholic doctrine is irreformable. That would include being irreformable by a subsequent Pope.

Like you, I could not find anything in the Summa.

Considering the fact that Holy Mother Church has been in existence for 2,000 years . . . there has to be something definitive on this. I know that Luther referred to the Pope as the Antichrist. Surely, the Church has dealt with this and other charges by the heretics over the years.

The answer is out there; the question is where.

Please let me know if you guys dig up anything.

Thank you.

Alan

Mary Ann replied:

Alan,

Christ promised to lead the Apostles into all truth and He promised Peter that he would confirm his brethren in faith and be the Rock upon which the Church could endure so that Hell would not prevail against it.

We know, therefore, that the Pope can never formally and authoritatively teach heresy because the Holy Spirit would not allow it. A Pope may hold heretical beliefs and teach them informally to friends or students or in personal or ad hoc letters but God will prevent him from proposing heresy as something that must be believed by the faithful. It has never happened in 2,000 years.

The hypothetical case that it might happen is absurd.

Mary Ann

Alan replied:

Hi Mary Ann,

I am cognizant of the Church's teachings on Papal infallibility with regards to ex-cathedra teachings versus other teachings. No argument from me here.

speak of The Great Apostasy and a forthcoming Great Schism within the Church. The True Remnant Church will go out the same way that she came in . . . underground. No doubt about it, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

  • Can a legitimate Pope apostatize?
  • Will another arise from within the True Remnant Church?

We don't know that answer to the second question but we should know the answer to the first question and know it via formal teachings of the Church.

Pope John Paul II published [Ad Tuendam Fidem|Accompanying commentary] and the Catechism for good reason.

"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that the wide circles of the American society, or the wide circles of the Christian community, realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel."

Notable and Quotable, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II,
Wall Street Journal, November 9, 1978.


Now, the specific references stated above do not necessarily speak of an apostate/heretical pope per se (certainly other private prophecy does) . . . however, it makes good sense to know the formal teaching of the Church in this matter.

Vatican I addresses Papal infallibility . . . it also, speaks to the prohibition of Catholic doctrine being reformed . . . by anyone.

  • Why not learn the formal teaching of the Church in this matter?
  • If you doubt that this can occur, as I have suggested then, why not identify the formal teaching of the Church in this matter to defend against the incessant attacks of the heretics against the Papacy?

Alan

Mary Ann replied:

Alan —

There have been times when there were anti-popes, and decent people did not know which was the real pope.

It may happen again, or worse, a great part of the Church could go into heresy (as happened with Arianism) where a minority of the faithful kept the faith, which was with Peter. Still, it is possible that the Pope:

  • could be underground
  • be unknown at some point, or
  • there could be a long interregnum.

The important thing is to trust God, keep the faith, and know that nothing is to be believed that contradicts the constant formal teaching of the Church universal on a matter of faith or morals.

Mary Ann

Alan replied:

Dear Eric and Mary Ann,

Thank-you for your responses!

Please understand that I am very grateful for them but neither of them:

  • answer my question
  • provide any new information, or
  • provide any information which I do not already agree with.

Alan

Mike replied:

Hi, Alan —

You wrote:

  • Why not learn the formal teaching of the Church in this matter?
  • If you doubt that this can occur, as I have suggested then, why not identify the formal teaching of the Church in this matter to defend against the incessant attacks of the heretics against the Papacy?

Your question reminds me of those who would want Catholics to show that the Church formally taught that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in 33 A.D.

Surprise: It didn't!

There was no need to because the faithful always believed in the Eucharist back then.

It was only until there was confusion in the Church that Holy Mother Church had to clarify what was always believed by the Magisterium of the Church. She did this at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D.

  • Make sense?

Mike

Eric followed-up:


To answer Alan's comment, and confirm what Mike said, there simply isn't a definitive answer to this question.

Eric

Eric followed-up:


Actually I may have some additional insight on this problem. The problem is really a canonical problem, not a theological one. The canon in question is:

1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of Canon 194, §1, n. 2,

  • an apostate from the faith
  • a heretic, or
  • a schismatic

incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in Canon 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

Note that this provides for an exception as outlined in Canon 194, which says:

194 §1. The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the law itself:

1° a person who has lost the clerical state;

2° a person who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church;

3° a cleric who has attempted marriage even if only civilly.

§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.

What this says is that if someone holding ecclesiastical office falls into heresy, they are not removed from office unless it is established by the declaration of a competent authority. Since no one is competent to judge the Roman Pontiff (Canon 1404: The First See is judged by no one), the pope cannot lose his office due to heresy.

Canon 1404 The First See is judged by no one.

Canon 1405  §1 In the cases mentioned in Canon 1401, the Roman Pontiff alone has the right to judge:

Canon 1401 The Church has its own and exclusive right to judge:

1° cases which refer to matters which are spiritual or linked with the spiritual;

2° the violation of ecclesiastical laws and whatever contains an element of sin, to determine guilt and impose ecclesiastical penalties.

Admittedly this is not precisely the question you asked, but I think that's the implication.

Moreover, the principle of Canon 1404 I would argue applies to determining whether the pope is a heretic or not, as 194 §1 2° refers to defection from the communion of the Church and canon §2 says that such must be established by the declaration of a competent authority which does not apply to the Roman Pontiff.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Alan,

I would add, there is no formal teaching of the Church on the possibility of the Pope formally teaching heresy because it cannot happen. It is an absurd proposition. The Church does not have a teaching on every theoretical possibility.

The definition of the Pope is the rock, the one who cannot formally teach heresy. So no Pope would do it. It is a gift of the Spirit, not a characteristic of the Pope.

You speak of an anti-Church. If such a thing were to happen (and I believe that if it has or will happen, it will be a movement within the Church that, only at the end, shows itself to be a separate thing), an anti-Church would simply be a movement that hates the Church and Her teachings.

If such a movement elected a Pope, and if, to appearances, it seemed as if the Roman Church were electing this Pope, and this Pope formally taught heresy, (all of which approaches the absurd), then we would have to wait in faith for the real Pope and real Church to be made manifest.

Something of the sort happened during the times when there were two popes, though neither taught heresy, that I know of.

Mary Ann

Alan replied:

Thank you for your responses.

Can you tell me, since we are speaking of Canon Law, it would appear that Ad Tuendam Fidem would apply.

  • Do you agree?
  • Can a subsequent Pontiff revoke the provision of Ad Tuendam Fidem?

God bless you and your family,

Alan

Eric replied:

Alan —

You wrote:
Can you tell me, since we are speaking of Canon Law, it would appear that Ad Tuendam Fidem would apply.

  • Do you agree?

Yes, certainly. Whatever correction or discipline the pope imposes we should submit to, even if it seems wrong to us. It may, in fact, be that he is wrong, but that's his responsibility, not ours, beyond any attempt we make, in private, to convince him to the limits of his longsuffering.

Alan wrote:

Sure. It is a matter of the law, nothing more.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Alan,

Any Motu Proprio can be modified by a subsequent pontiff.

Mary Ann

Alan replied:

Hi guys,

The original question centered on the fact that many believe that the false prophet of Revelation 13 will be an antipope.

  • Whether that is true or not, what is the official teaching of the Church with respect to a Pope preaching heresy? (i.e. a legitimate Pope apostatizing as in 2 Thessalonians.)

I am aware of the teaching of Vatican I on Papal Infallibility when teaching ex-cathedra. I note also that the Council stated that Catholic doctrine is irreformable . . . . that would include reformation by a subsequent Pope.

My investigations have found nothing more on the topic than the above mentioned statements of Vatican I and Pope John Paul II's Ad Tuendam Fidem.

A deceased priest friend of mine stated that St. Thomas taught that a sitting (legitimate) Pope could teach heresy but as soon as he did he was ex-communicated automatically (ipso facto) latae sententiae. My search through Summa to find such teaching was unsuccessful.

With the increased attacks upon the Papacy during the last 500 years, I would have expected the Church to have published something more.

Alan

Eric replied:

Alan —

You wrote:
The original question centered on the fact that many believe that the false prophet of Revelation 13 will be an antipope.

  • Whether that is true or not, what is the official teaching of the Church with respect to a Pope preaching heresy? (i.e. a legitimate Pope apostatizing as in 2 Thessalonians.)

Remember that an antipope is not a pope who commits heresy.

An antipope is a false claimant to the See of Rome, for example, a loser in a power struggle for the papal election or just some wacko who wrongly claims he is pope and gets some people to believe him.

This is different from a legitimate pope who goes off course, if such a thing were possible.

Eric

Alan replied:

Yes,

I am aware of the typical scenarios throughout history.

If you care to help, please sidestep the semantics of whether a antipope is:

  • a person who has an illegitimate claim upon the chair of Peter outright, or
  • whether it can include also an ex-communicated Pope

    i.e. a former Pope who continues to make such claim upon the chair after ex-communication, and such claim is illegitimate after the fact.

Alan

Mary Ann replied:


Actually, the point is quite relevant.

If a Pope were to formally teach heresy, we would know he was an antipope, because by definition the Pope does not formally teach heresy, as a gift of Christ.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Just to add to what Mary Ann has said:

It may be relevant as a way to answer the root question, which seems to be whether a putative pope could become the Second Beast of Revelation.

So far our discussions along the line of the question you asked, namely, what is the official teaching about the pope teaching heresy, have reached a dead end. Thus I tried another tack. If you want to resolve your questions, you might want to consider different approaches.

With respect to your specific question with the specific assumptions you articulated, I'll summarize things as I see them.

One, a legitimately elected pope cannot formally teach heresy, period, end of story. Whether he can privately teach heresy, or personally embrace it, is an open question; St. Thomas felt he could, and we have the example of one pope who did in a private letter make an assertion that was later condemned as a heresy (which, however, is not the same thing as teaching heresy).

Canon law, as I read it, precludes a pope from losing office due to heresy. (Here I'd disagree with Mary Ann.) There is, however, no teaching concerning a pope falling into heresy at any level, only against him teaching heresy at a formal level.

If this satisfies you, great. If not, we can explore other ways to explain how an antipope can be the Second Beast of Revelation other than a legitimate pope becoming a heretic.

Eric

Alan replied:

Thank each of you for your continued assistance in this matter.

I have attached my response and summary to date of our communique.

After thinking more about this last evening in a bout of insomnia . . . I have added some additional thoughts.

I would ask that you pray about this. Regardless of how unpalatable this is to us Catholics, I suggest that something like this will be occurring soon.

God bless you and your families and thank you for your continued help,

Alan

Mike replied:

Hi Alan,

You said in your attached response:

Question: What is the formal teaching on whether a legitimately elected Pope can teach heresy publicly; and whether by attempting to do so he incurs a latae sententiae excommunication?

I can think of 3 scenarios:

Scenario 1: The college of cardinals led by the Holy Spirit, choose a very holy Pope, who cooperates with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and leads his flock in accordance with the Will of God.

Indeed, this has happened historically. Notwithstanding, certain non-public bad behavior on the part of one or two Popes.

If you want us to seriously address your question, you have to tell us when, from your view, this historically happened.

You said:

Scenario 2: The college of cardinals led by the Holy Spirit , choose a holy Pope, who cooperates with the gifts of the Holy Spirit initially; and at some point in time he exercises his free will and rejects the Holy Spirit (i.e. blaspheming of the Holy Spirit). Thereafter, he teaches heresy publicly (ex-cathedra).

This is very difficult for a Catholic to accept, as we hold our pontiffs in such high regard. However, for purposes of this exercise we are not addressing the probability occurrence, but the possibility of occurrence.

That's because it can't happen; not because we hold our pontiffs in such high regard but because we hold the Holy Spirit — God in such high regard.

You said:

It would appear from your e-mails and those of your colleagues, that regardless of scenario 2 or 3, the answer would be the same. Namely, that:

  1. The Church does not have any formal teaching on the matter.
  2. As a matter of Canon law an excommunication latae sententiae, is inapplicable to the clergy as Canon 1364 is excepted to Canon 194 which requires that a clergy man can only be excommunicated by way of a declaration by a competent authority.
  3. In the case of the Pope, there is no such competent authority.

You said:

  1. In the case of the Pope, there is no such competent authority.
  • Do you really want to have that in your portfolio of sayings?

Based on the rest of your attached response, I think you have been reading too many private Marian apparitions (which are solely optional to the faithful and not de fide at all) as well as Masonic material.

I'm sure my colleagues may have an opinion.

Mike

Eric replied:

Alan said in his attached response:

Scenario 1: The college of cardinals led by the Holy Spirit, choose a very holy Pope, who cooperates with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and leads his flock in accordance with the Will of God.

Indeed, this has happened historically. Notwithstanding, certain non-public bad behavior on the part of one or two Popes.

Eric

Alan replied:

Mike,

I think that you have misunderstood. That has to be my fault in the wording that I chose.

Please let me clarify:

Re: Scenario 1: What has happened historically is that the Holy Spirit has acted through very holy men comprising the college of cardinals, and have chosen very holy men as Popes who subsequently led their flocks in accordance with the Will of God.

  • With that clarified, surely we can agree on that?
  • When has it happened? . . . without exception, since Pope St. Peter, inclusive.

Alan

Eric replied:


I think Mike has a good point about Marian apparitions.

Now Alan I don't know where you are in all of this. I am not attempting to judge you and I don't know a lot about where you are coming from, but concerning what Mike said, while there are true Marian apparitions, there are also false ones, and there is also a culture (I am thinking of Fr. Gobbi, but he is by no means the only one) of cultivating suspicion of the pope.

Satan is more than willing to play both sides; he doesn't care whether he uses raving leftist lunatics or right wing nuts. Anything that will get people away from Christ, and planting seeds of doubts into people hearts about whether the pope can become a heretic could be a very clever tactic on his part.

It sets the individual up as a private judge, just like the Reformation. The Reformers said, we know better than the Pope, what Scripture teaches; this culture says, we know better than the Pope, what Catholicism teaches. Any excuse for refusing to submit to the Roman Pontiff, whether it's Scripture or Tradition, is a seed of schism. Schism, in turn, breeds heresy.

For me, to ask a question like, well, What would happen if the pope declared that Jesus did not rise from the dead?, would make as much sense as to say, What would happen if black became white? The very question makes no sense.

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi Alan,

Sure we can agree but if you go back to the original question:

  • What is the formal teaching on whether a legitimately elected Pope can teach heresy publicly; and whether by attempting to do so he incurs a latae sententiae excommunication?

I can't see how holy Cardinals can elect holy Popes and those holy Popes, obviously guided by the Holy Spirit can preach heresy.

The Catholic Answer is they can't, otherwise, Our Lord lied to us in Matthew 16:13-20 and the Holy Spirit goofed when 1 Timothy 3:15 got in there. : )

One of the things I love about being Catholic is that on formally taught doctrinal issues, it is a black and white paradigm. Satan's favorite color is gray.

When you say:

  • This is very difficult for a Catholic to accept, as we . . .

It's not difficult if you reject it and a Catholic should always reject false Teaching : )

Mike

Mary Ann replied:


It appears to me from what Alan is saying that there has been a complete failure of communication.  Admittedly, there can be difficult when there are several interlocutors.

Anyway, let's start over. For the sake of argument, let's say that Alan wants to know what happens to a Pope who formally and authoritatively teaches heresy ex cathedra.

Answer:

There ain't no such creature as a Pope who formally teaches heresy ex cathedra.  As to a Pope who is misguided or:

  • a private heretic
  • a disciplinary mess or
  • an immoral idiot,

all of that can and probably has happened, but it doesn't make him not the Pope.

Now, suppose there is a vacancy in the Holy See and then a bunch of cardinals decide to follow a heretical man and elect him Pope, and this man formally and authoritatively teaches heresy ex cathedra. The average Catholic, at that point, will know that those cardinals are in schism and that the election was a false election of a false Pope, and that the rest of the cardinals, perhaps a minority, are the true leaders of the Church and will eventually choose a new bishop of Rome/Pope.

With Arianism, such a scenario happened with bishops, where most bishops became heretics. We will get through whatever happens, and it is important to know that you and I, as individuals, do not need to know every detail of what is happening as it happens. God provides for his Church, and we must trust Him.

Mary Ann

 

Mary Ann followed-up later:

I think I found the problem:

You said in your document:

Scenario 1: The college of cardinals led by the Holy Spirit, choose a very holy Pope, who cooperates with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and leads his flock in accordance with the Will of God.

Indeed, this has happened historically. Notwithstanding, certain "non-public" bad behavior on the part of one or two Popes.

Alan, Scenario 1 is nice and the usual case in modern times. There is a Scenario 1A you left out:

That a regular guy or non-holy pope is chosen, who leads his flock either very poorly or very well, but does not teach authoritatively on faith or morals.

You see, infallibility is not a guarantee of good governance, or of sanctity, or even of good teaching of what is already known to be the faith. (A Pope could, for example, neglect to teach much of the faith).

You said in your document:

Scenario 2: The college of cardinals led by the Holy Spirit , choose a holy Pope, who cooperates with the gifts of the Holy Spirit initially; and at some point in time he exercises his free will and rejects the Holy Spirit (i.e. ‘blaspheming the Holy Spirit'). Thereafter, he teaches heresy publicly (ex cathedra).

Your scenario 2 is the one that is prevented by Christ's gift of infallibility. It simply cannot happen. Yes, one can imagine it happening, but that is like imagining that when a validly ordained priest says the words of consecration over valid matter, that the bread and wine don't become Christ.

It is the whole point of the action, promised by Christ, that this will not happen. It is not a theoretical possibility or an existential possibility. Holding a pontiff in high regard has nothing to do with it.

You said in your document:
Scenario 3:  The Evil One has infiltrated the college of cardinals to a degree such that a majority of them select a Pope who is inherently evil interiorly.

Scenario 3 can happen, and has probably happened more than once (though to be precise there is no such thing as a person who is inherently evil: we retain our created goodness, even if we have given ourselves over to Satan. We retain free will til death.) I believe it may happen again, but such a Pope can not lead the Church astray dogmatically, and he cannot carry out the destruction of the Church. First, because of the gift of infallibility, and second, because of the gift of indefectibility, whereby the Church, itself, will not be prevailed against by Satan so as to deviate from her mission. This is Christ's promise. His promise and His action is the source of the reality, that is, the Church, so it is pointless to counter by saying that: maybe the Church will go against the promise of Christ. Some people might, even a majority might, but not the Church.

You said in your document:

(1) 2 Thessalonians speaks of the Great Apostasy.  This suggests a forthcoming Great Schism within the Church.  Holy Scripture also speaks of a ‘faithful remnant'.  It would seem that the majority of the Faithful will be swept away in apostasy.  One would expect that this would include the laity, religious and clergy.

The great apostasy means the great falling away from the faith, AWAY from the CHURCH! So again, by definition, the Church cannot apostatize. Only people can, and, of course, these people can include, as they did with Arianism, most of the hierarchy.

You then make a point of talking about irreformability of Papal ex cathedra teaching. Yes, but be very sure what IS ex cathedra and what IS NOT. Very little Papal teaching is ex cathedra.

You said in your document:

"With this in mind, we proceed to the next point. For good or for bad, Pope John Paul II made a very revealing statement to the secular press in 1976 while still a cardinal. The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying: "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that the wide circles of the American society, or the wide circles of the Christian community, realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel."

(Notable & Quotable, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (who became Pope John Paul II), Wall Street Journal, Nov. 9, 1978.)"

I will accept your quote and its source. As a matter of fact, I agree with him. But the anti-Church refers to those within the Church who work against it, not to another or parallel Church, though these anti-Church people may break away and form false assemblies.

You said in your document:

Some would be quick to dismiss any quote from the secular press as being unreliable; however, a close inspection of the pontificate of John Paul indicates an overt preparatory battle for the Great Apostasy. Just to name one, the compilation and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In one stroke, John Paul placed a written summary of the Faith in the hands of the entire Faithful.

In his Apostolic Constitution: Fidei Depositum, Pope John Paul II stated:

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the kingdom!"

Some may attempt to dismiss the importance of an Apostolic Constitution. I hold that it is indeed an ex cathedra teaching. This one includes the complete Catechism of the Catholic Church.

An Apostolic Constitution is not necessarily ex cathedra, but JPII explicitly states that he is teaching in virtue of his Apostolic Authority, so let's say that this one is. Even so, he is only saying that the Catechism is a sure norm for teaching, not that it, itself is, in all of its aspects, infallible. However, since most of the Catechism (the part that is not argumentative or illustrative, but is expository) contains what has already been declared as infallible Catholic doctrine, that point is moot.

You said in your document:

Our Lady of Akita predicted a great struggle within the Church.

"...The work of the devil will infiltrate even the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres ...churches and altars sacked, the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord..."

One must ask: “How will the then reigning pontiff respond at such time?”

Where have you been, Alan? That has already happened, has been happening for a long time, and is still happening, and we have seen how the pontiffs have responded. With good teaching and hampered or ineffective or extremely prudential governance (limited governance, in any case, and you can take your pick of whether it was hampered, or incompetent or guided in prudence by the Holy Spirit.

You said in your document:

(6) To add fuel to the fire, there is the “Permanent Instruction to the Alta Vendita” (a Masonic group). An excerpt read:

... You wish to establish the reign of the chosen ones on the throne of the prostitute of Babylon; let the clergy march under your standard, always believing that they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic keys. You intend to make the last vestige of tyrants and oppressors disappear; lay your snares (nets) like Simon Bar-Jona; lay them in the sacristies, the seminaries and the monasteries rather than at the bottom of the sea; and if you do not hurry, we promise you a catch more miraculous than his. The fisher of fish became the fisher of men; your will bring friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have preached a revolution in tiara and cope, marching with the cross and the banner, a revolution that will need to be only a little bit urged on to set fire to the four corners of the world..."


They can dream and plot all they want. They can seize most of the cardinals' hats and even the Papacy, but God will protect that Pope from leading the Church astray from its mission and from teaching heresy. Most likely, what could happen is that such a conspiracy could gather most of the hierarchy to its cause and those guys will join the new world religion or whatever is on the horizon.

You said in your document:

(7) The Original Prayer to St. Michael composed by Pope Leo XIII speaks of something much like this scenario:

“...These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered...”

Your attention is directed to the words of Pope Leo above: “where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety,”

Here is your problem! You are reading this as saying that the abomination is set up in the See of Peter, and you are interpreting that to mean in the Papal seat itself, which would imply a real Pope who is a heretic. But Leo is simply saying, "In the place where the See of Peter has been set up, they have raised a throne of impiety." He is saying that in the Vatican, in the see of Rome, (not in the seat of the bishop himself, but in the place where that has been set up, i.e. Rome, esp. the Vatican) - that is where the evil ones have hatched their iniquitous design to strike the Pastor, and where they will perform their anti-worship and their anti-teaching. And that is true, and it has been going on since St. Peter and St. Paul. And it is especially bad now.

Hope this helps,

Mary Ann

Later Mary Ann wrote:


To add to what I said about irreformable. No Pope can bind a future Pope on issues that are not concerned with faith and morals. For instance, a Pope may say,

You have to say this prayer forever, no matter which Pope says not to.

but he is overreaching if he does that. He can state his preference or will in that regard (as the Pope of the Tridentine Mass did), but unless it is a question of infallible teaching, it does not have to be adhered to by the next Pope.

To be universally and forever accepted, not only must the manner of the promulgation be infallible (the Pope must say he is speaking with authority, and say that it is to be held as divine and Catholic faith, and do it in a public way for all), but the matter itself must be a matter susceptible of infallibility.

A Pope can try to say that henceforth only green vestments will be worn, or that Fords are the best cars, or even that all bishops must never leave their dioceses, but these cannot be infallible — and in the case of Fords, can be ignored!

Mary Ann

Alan replied:


Once again, I would like to thank each of you for your continued assistance in this matter.

God bless you and your families and thank you for your help,

Alan

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