The other day, someone out there in blogland asked a question that has been in my own mind for nearly three years. In essence, the question was, “How can a pope be a schismatic? If schism means refusal of submission to Peter, how can a pope be in schism from himself?” This logically leads to the next question: if Bergoglio is a heretic, and we are obliged to resist him, how then are we not, by definition, the schismatics?
People feel they are caught in an impossible dilemma; if the pope preaches heresy as though it were Catholic truth (and no bishop condemns this and calls him to account) are we not obliged to obey him? If not, then how are we not in open rebellion against the pope? But how can we who love Christ and wish to obey His commandments, follow this pope in his many brazen rebellions – his “manifest heresies” – against divinely authored truth?
When the early martyrs were presented with a bowl of incense and ordered to pinch a grain on pain of death, it was easy to see which choice was the right one, even if they were afraid to make it. We had the bishops and the popes leading the way to the arena. What do we do when it is the pope who holds the bowl out to us and demands we abandon Christ?
And of course, this is precisely the dilemma that the revolutionaries who put Jorge Bergoglio on the throne of Peter have intended to create. They are counting on the modern Catholic, who has absorbed only one dogma: that of false papal positivism, to follow their man into his rebellion. I have said many times that the goal is a purge; they aim to remove from the institution of the Church the last vestiges of the stubborn recalcitrants who have refused the New Paradigm until now. But this is only the effect in the natural world; in reality, their aim is to remove Christ from His throne, to finish what they began at Vatican II and de-sacralize the Catholic Church.
But if Bergoglio is a heretic, and one who seems determined to break the Church away from Christ by breaking it away from His teachings, then he is certainly going to create the worst – and most bizarre – schism in the bimillennial history of the Church. In fact, it will not resemble any other historical schism – not one group breaking away from the pope and the Church, but the entire believing Church breaking away from a pope who wants to drag them away from Christ.
It will be chaos. Priests will be without shelter, sustenance or protection from the increasingly rabid, anti-Catholic secular laws; seminaries, parishes, convents, monasteries, university faculties will all be definitively closed to believers; (a very few) Catholic bishops will oppose Bergoglian bishops, and will be ordered to vacate their sees; laity will have to rent hotel conference rooms to fulfill their weekly Sunday obligation, celebrated by the local vagus priest on a circuit.
And this apocalyptic scenario is upon us now.
The very impossibility of what is happening daily before our eyes – as though we opened them one day and the physical laws governing reality were no longer in effect – has left many stunned into immobility, retreating into denial. But we are on the edge of that ultimate, unthinkable form of schism right now, with bishops and cardinals, as I write this, signing public letters accusing the pope of having departed radically from Christ and His holy Church. The unthinkable is here.
But the fact is, we have known for a long time that this was coming. Indeed, to those great Catholic minds of the past who have explored the possibility of a heretic pope, a wolf who wants to ravage the sheep, this situation is not at all unimaginable. St. Robert Bellarmine imagined it and gave us direction: we must resist such a pope, as we would be an enemy of our souls.
But even more than the great minds like Bellarmine, since the disaster of the Second Vatican Council it has been perfectly obvious to anyone with eyes that this day would have to come. We know perfectly well what kind of men our modern Catholic bishops are. The best of them can barely bring themselves to oppose the continual slaughter of millions of unborn children. Being barely “pro-life” is now the mark of a “conservative” bishop of the Catholic Church, and it is a mark that most of them carry apologetically and with indecisive reservation.
The worst… well, we have known what sort of men these are for some time. We buried that bar so far down it won’t be discovered for a thousand years. Even if we had sailed through the immediate post-Conciliar decades without noticing, the Boston Globe stripped away much of the façade of respectability in 2001. Now we think of a “good bishop” as one who has never been caught covering up a priestly homosexual abuse scandal. Any Catholic of reading age knows the terms “clericalism” and “cover-up” only too well. (It boggles my mind that a creature like Godfried Danneels is not pelted with filth in the streets of Brussels by angry mobs, but perhaps it is true that after five or six decades of legal abortion, parents no longer love their children as they once did.)
Moreover, we know that these bad men have been very active. They have campaigned and conspired for decades for this very situation, while the “conservative” mind tries merely to slow the pace of change. The simple physics of the ratchet effect, mathematical necessity, has made a man like Bergoglio as inevitable as a North Atlantic iceberg on a cold April night.
Those wondering where Bergoglio has come from must not have noticed what has happened since 1965. I have seen and felt the deadening effects of the disease of religious indifference – like a mental numbness, spiritual novocaine – in every Novus Ordo parish I’ve ever been to in Canada, the US, Germany and Britain, and even worse in the traditionally Catholic nations of Italy and Malta. With the universal mainstreaming – by using the Church’s own infrastructure as a syringe – of heresy, of neo-modernism, of nominalism, of secularism, materialism, naturalism… How could we have imagined that the Church would have failed to produce a pope like Jorge Bergoglio?
With his every nonsensical, contradictory, incomprehensible utterance, his pandering to empty, disordered emotionalism, his populism, his total devotion to the secularist, globalist causes of environmentalism and the UN/EU project of a global socialist state – and most importantly his manifest loathing of and aggression towards Catholicism – he identifies himself as the embodiment of the post-Conciliar goals. We are seeing nothing more than the straightforward, logical result of the direction of the Church of the last 50 years. Bergoglio is Vaticantwoism unmasked.
And we would have had him a lot sooner if John Paul – and the compromising “conservative” position he fostered – hadn’t lasted so long. For 26 years we followed a path of slow, relentless disintegration. John Paul’s devotion to the New Paradigm was masked in part by his partisans in the US pre-humously canonizing him, and partly by the press that called him an “ultra-conservative” because he opposed contraception and abortion. (The fact that he did nothing whatever to enforce the Church’s teaching and discipline in this or any other matter seems not to have obtruded onto their narrative.) Catholics are as susceptible to media-generated false imagery as anyone else, especially in a time when no one is taught the Faith.
The 34-year interregnum, which the revolutionaries put to profitable use, allowed an entire generation of people to grow up having known nothing but the New Normal. While John Paul II was busying himself about his native country’s secular politics, the revolutionaries took hold of the governance of the Church, creating a lockdown on the minds of the faithful. Little old ladies today are the first ones to complain to the bishop if a smattering of Latin appears in their weekly tambourine festivals.
Think about it only in terms of the weekly liturgy: how in the midst of this appalling crisis have we come to think of as “normal”: altar girls, Communion in the hand, female lectors, Mass facing the people, the weird ritual of “bringing up the gifts,” children’s liturgy – all of which fall into the category of “reverent” liturgy at an ordinary Catholic parish?
The architects of this “New Normal” were men put in place almost entirely by the two great “conservative” popes of the post-Conciliar pause. In fact, the major figures of the so-called “Sankt Gallen mafia,” the cabal of high-ranking prelates who pushed Jorge Bergoglio onto Peter’s throne in 2013, were all made cardinals by John Paul II: Kasper, Danneels, Martini, Hume and Bergoglio himself. And we know now that we would have had Bergoglio in 2005 had this cabal had their way.
While the tiny handful of Catholic laymen we now call Traditionalists tried to shout a warning, all of this occurred with the warm approval of nearly every bishop in Christendom. This is the New Normal that they know and this is the New Normal that they want back. And this is why we will hear nothing from our “good conservative” bishops, even now.
I have had many conversations with people in responsible positions, lecturers in philosophy at pontifical universities, rectors of Catholic colleges, diocesan officials, who have told me that this is the “normal” to which the “good” bishops are longing to return. Again and again I have heard the same thing: “I spoke to my bishop and he just says we should wait until it’s over; keep our heads down. Popes don’t last forever.” There is, apparently, no understanding at all of the depth of the crisis, which is hardly surprising, since these are the same bishops who have been unable even to admit to (much less resolve) the disintegration of the Church in their own territories.
It’s understandable, perhaps. Even those who are not active promoters of the New Paradigm have grown up in it and see nothing essentially wrong with its principles. If a man is a bishop now, he is in his fifties or sixties. He has known nothing but the new Church. He attended nothing but the new Mass in his altar boy days. He was trained in seminary in the tenets of the new religion, couched as they were in the old terms. And never once noticing the existence of that lost city under the Novus Ordo false floor. He has spent his priestly life in suburban parishes and chanceries where no mention has ever been made of the old Church. Those grumpy dinosaurs who complained about the changes in the 60s and 70s have long since either died or gone elsewhere. He has never met them. As a bishop he has come to regard these “traditionalists” as reactionary cranks, speaking a foreign and nonsensical language, barely to be tolerated, and certainly to be kept in their place, well away from the normal, mainstream Church.
In fact, he may even be, broadly, a “conservative”. He goes to the March for Life in Washington or at least sends a delegation of young people. He gives talks to the diocesan Right to Life committee and supports Project Rachel. He has spoken out against euthanasia and the death penalty and thinks it all one with a unified and holistic pro-life position.
He might even have learned how to say the Old Rite, which he does once or twice a year. He finds the hand-kissing thing a bit uncomfortable, but he’s happy to play along once in a while if it keeps them quiet. He finds their talk of “zeal for souls” and their Eucharistic piety forced and archaic. He smiles and shakes his head that adults could be so obsessed with Fatima conspiracies. It’s a community of probably mentally unbalanced oddballs, like a group of historical re-enactors creating a costumed fantasy world for themselves with waxed handlebar mustaches and long dresses. He’s much more comfortable with his more easy-going appointments with the charismatic community, Communion and Liberation and St. Egidio groups, and the local pro-abort Catholic senator, giving talks on economic justice, the human rights of immigrants and the abolition of the death penalty. That’s the real world.
To such a man, the collapse of the Church institutions is not much more than a statistic. This is the Church he knows. It’s normal. He remembers Pope Benedict’s comforting comment about the “smaller, more fervent Church” and thinks that is what we’re heading for. And it’s fine. The bleeding out of the Church through its million small wounds is normal. The empty pews, the one or two ordinations a year, the shutting down of schools, the exodus of parishioners to the mega-church Protestants, the amalgamation of parishes and selling off of properties no longer occupied, the polite annual memorial Mass commemorating of the work of the school sisters, long since vanished into nursing homes… All of this is the New Normal. The old Church has had its day and is slipping politely into history, its work of civilization-building accomplished.
To such a man, the issues the traditionalists talk about are at best irrelevant. Their rejection of Vatican II; their constant, embarrassing carping over dated and obsolete formulations of the Church’s doctrines, that the Council had abrogated or “developed” into a more nuanced and modern meaning, (extra ecclesiam nulla salus? really?) their refusal to live in the real world – all this he thinks simplistic and counter-productive. The product of unbalanced personalities, the kind he was quietly glad to see the back of when they got kicked out of seminary. He reads First Things and admired John Paul II’s fight against Communism. He likes the diocesan ecumenical gatherings; he likes to Tweet about hanging out with “the youth” for the World Youth Day build-up events.
The one thing he fears, the one thing he constantly preaches against is “divisiveness.”
To this man, the explosion of Bergoglianism – this weird and extreme throw-back to the fads and obsessions of the ‘70s – must appear like an asteroid out of a clear blue sky, a bizarre and inexplicable anomaly to be waited out with head well down and with language prudently modified. Naturally, things will right themselves. We will get back to normal.
This is why I have said so many times that Jorge Bergoglio is the pope we need right now. Another “conservative” in the mold of Benedict XVI would have been the end of us. How much longer could the Church have survived, bleeding to death in her sleep? This is the pope who will push the New Paradigm to its final anti-rational logical end, and will present men like this with a choice they cannot ignore or avoid. Indeed, this pope himself will hold a gun to their heads and ask them what they choose. He is, in fact, doing so now.
Until Bergoglio, Traditionalists were tolerated. People who believed the things the Church teaches were allowed a corner where they were mostly left alone. There has been a vast self-segregation. Parishes in every diocese in the world have been divided into ideological camps. And the popes since the Council have done nothing to correct this. Bishops have followed suit, lying to themselves about the Church’s “big umbrella,” an umbrella big enough, it seemed, to accommodate both Christ and Belial.
But now we have the pope himself declaring for a side in the Church’s quiet interior civil war, and it isn’t the side of the angels. After 50 years of papal ambiguity, insisting that everything’s dandy, playing both sides and walking the tightrope, we now have blessed clarity. The axe has fallen at last.
Back to my question above: how can a pope be in schism, since to be in schism means separation from Peter?
The question, I’m afraid, is a symptom of the New Normal. One of the foundational tenets of the New Paradigm is papal positivism: the idea that the Church rests upon Peter and his every utterance must be taken as the Faith. We have heard again and again from every corner slogans like, “Well, the Holy Spirit chooses the pope, right?” Moreover, in the history of the Church’s schisms, the one that stands out is the one that created the millennial division between Constantinople and Rome. The so-called “Eastern Orthodox” define themselves by not being in submission to the pope.
In reality the term is much more broad. The Catholic Encyclopedia helps us here, and shows us there is more to being Catholic than being willing to follow a pope over a cliff: (all bold emphases added)
Schism (from the Greek schisma, rent, division) is, in the language of theology and canon law, the rupture of ecclesiastical union and unity, i.e. either the act by which one of the faithful severs as far as in him lie the ties which bind him to the social organization of the Church and make him a member of the mystical body of Christ, or the state of dissociation or separation which is the result of that act.
It quotes St. Paul in 1Corinthians: “I beseech you, brethren that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.”
Later we hear from the Apostle defining what this means: that we are in unity when we have the same divine belief. “One Lord; One Faith; One Baptism.”
The encyclopedia continues:
“[S]chism is a genus which embraces two distinct species: heretical or mixed schism and schism pure and simple. The first has its source in heresy or joined with it, the second, which most theologians designate absolutely as schism, is the rupture of the bond of subordination without an accompanying persistent error, directly opposed to a definite dogma.”
One can become, in short, divided from the Mystical Body of Christ by obdurate denial of Catholic doctrine.
“Schism, therefore, is usually mixed, in which case, considered from a moral standpoint, its perversity is chiefly due to the heresy which forms part of it. In its other aspect and as being purely schism it is contrary to charity and obedience; to the former, because it severs the ties of fraternal charity, to the latter, because the schismatic rebels against the Divinely constituted hierarchy.
“However, not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command.”
Now, Jorge Bergoglio is denying Christ left, right and centre. He has, in fact, re-written the very words of Christ in an official teaching document of the papal magisterium: the “first and greatest commandment” is not the love of neighbour. Anyone who cares to look it up can see what Christ Himself said about it. This, and not the footnote in Amoris Laetitia, is Bergoglio’s most plain act of schism from his only lawful hierarchical Superior and a de facto denial of that Superior’s right to command. In re-writing the teaching of Christ, Bergoglio has set himself above and at odds with Christ.
Because the pope is only subject to God Himself, his denial of the words of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is both an act of heresy (and I think writing it down in a papal document, publishing it in half a dozen languages and posting it to the Vatican website could count as “obduracy”) and an act of schism, since it is a rebellion against his immediate Superior.
Of course, we know that this is far from his first offence, though his implied denial of another part of the plainly spoken words of Christ in the holy scriptures – that a married man and a woman can never be “divorced,” and that to marry again is adultery – is perhaps doctrinally, and certainly practically, more dire.
How are these many, uncountable, acts of rebellion against Bergoglio’s only lawful hierarchical Superior not acts of schism? How do his habitual denials of the right of Christ – God – to be the Author of reality, not qualify as a denial of Our Lord’s “divine right to command”?
How are we not able, indeed obliged, to oppose a pope who so blatantly opposes Christ? Who is the true head of the Church?
It is far from impossible to imagine a pope in schism. We are watching it happen right now. Every day. He announces his schism daily on Twitter. Every day, in the Casa Santa Martha, Bergoglio announces his hatred for and his denial of the right of Christ – his lawful hierarchical Superior – to command.
What follows in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry is, perhaps, an article for another day, but is certainly worth considering for its implications. If we accept that Bergoglio is a schismatic…
To communicate in sacris with schismatics, e.g., to receive the sacraments at the hands of their ministers, to assist at Divine Offices in their temples, is strictly forbidden to the faithful.
What happens when the person in question is the pope of the universal Church?
Our Italy correspondent is known throughout the English-speaking world as a champion of family and cultural issues. First introduced by our allies and friends at the incomparable LifeSiteNews.com, Miss While lives in Norcia, Italy.
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