Dear Family and Friends,
Attached is an article by Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi regarding the strong” traditionalist” attitude some have had toward Pope Francis… Fr. Iannuzzi is very learned in Scripture, Church Teaching, early Church Fathers/Councils, etc… Often we as laity can come up with our own opinions and ideas about the Church and Jesus’ teaching with our own limited knowledge.
Fr. Iannuzzi is sharing with us from his wealth of knowledge.
Below I have copied the beginning and the conclusion for you… If interested in whole article, let me know and I’ll email it to you.
Love and prayers,
Can a Pope Become a Heretic?
Rev. Joseph L. Iannuzzi, STD, Ph.D.
In recent months the Roman Pontiff’s teaching authority has been openly challenged and his supreme, full and immediate authority questioned. Particular exception has been taken to his non ex cathedra pronouncements in light if modern prophecies which, according to some, has troubled not a few Catholics. As a result, many Catholics have written yours truly, perplexed over this challenge, asking for enlightenment in this regard. In response, I am providing the faithful with the following article to help dispel any confusion surrounding the Roman Pontiff’s teaching authority, and herewith, a clear answer from Church Tradition and Magisterial documents pertaining to the type of assent required from all the faithful to the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra.
My point of departure is the small movement within the Church that contends that validly elected Roman Pontiffs of the past have made heretical statements and, for this reason, are heretics. By virtue of this contention, they consider it “permissible” to question the teaching authority of our present-day Roman Pontiff Francis. Before elucidating the three major groups associated with this movement, it is noteworthy that among the adherents of this movement, many acknowledge that the Church dogmas of Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception (of Pope Pius IX) and the Assumption (of Pope Pius XII) are an exercise of the charism of papal infallibility (“ex cathedra” pronouncements), and are therefore immune from error. Nevetheless, said adherents contend that “non ex cathedra” papal statements, even on faith and morals issues, are not immune from heresy. The three main groups associated with this movement are the “sede-vacantists”, “sede-privationists” and “sede-impeditists”.
The Sedeist movement
The “sedevacantists” reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council – in some cases this rejection extends to the validity of all post-Council papal elections, thereby professing that the papal seat (sede) empty (vacante); the “sedeprivationists” contend that the papal seat is occupied, but by a Pope whose pontificate is defective, as he has embraced the heresy of modernism and unless he returns to traditional Catholicism he will not complete the process to attain to the fullness of the papacy; the “sedeimpeditists” do not believe that the papal seat is empty (like the sedevacantists), or that the Pope is in heresy (like the sedeprivationists), but rather that the truly legitimate Pope exits but was impeded by certain forces from taking office. For purposes of brevity, throughout this article I collectively refer to in the adherents of this movement as, “sedeists”….
The aforesaid sedeist views toward the Roman Pontiff’s teaching authority, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra, is flawed and even spiritually harmful, as it brings with it the danger of judging the Pope according to one’s own standards and falling short of the obedience asked of them by Christ. 35 Such individuals who support this claim reflect a fundamentalist approach to Scripture and Catholicism by interpreting the texts and expressions of the faith divorced from their historical context and considering themselves the highest judge of what is Catholic and what is not. This approach appeals to pride and, as history has proven time and again, subtly leads into pernicious error; matters that in fact are very small become magnified into large matters, and divisions ensue within the Church.
The Catholic approach to the Roman Pontiff that I have illustrated in this article is one of faithful adherence not simply to a mere human instructor, but to the inspired Vicar of Christ on earth who is endowed by Christ with a special charism of teaching authority that will endure for all ages. I here recall Christ’s words to Peter who alone among the apostles received direct knowledge from above: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly father. And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates the of netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16.17-35 Mt. 23:3: [Jesus tells his disciples:]”The scribes and pharisees occupy the seat of Moses, so obey them in everything they tell you…”18 18). In these words Christ does not tell Peter to build his church, but that He himself will build his own Church, thereby implying that through Peter (who represents all future Pontiffs) Christ accomplishes his Divine Will within his Church by the power of the Holy Spirit whom he promised to send his apostles to “lead them to all the truth” (Jn. 16:13). It is precisely this promised Holy Spirit who continues to inspire each Roman Pontiff to guide the Church in every generation. The Catholic Catechism relates as much with respect to papal infallibility, which guides the Pope’s definitions: “Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, as assistance promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself”.36
The 5th Lateran Council (1512-1517) sums it up as follows:
“The eternal Father, who will never abandon his flock up to the close of the age, so loved obedience… that… when he [his beloved Son] was about to depart from this world to the Father, he established Peter and his successors as his own representatives on the firmness of a rock. It is necessary to obey them, a the book of the Kings testifies, so that whoever does not obey, incurs death.” 37
The 1st Vatican Council (1869-1870) sums it up in similar fashion:
“That which our Blessed Lord… established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ’s authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time… Blessed Peter… received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ… to this day and forever he (Christ) lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors…whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains… the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So that what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon the guidance of the Church which he once received…
To him (the Roman Pontiff), in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ to tend, to rule and govern the universal Church… But clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collective, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world… he is the supreme judge of the faithful…36 Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentum, 25, op. cit., p. 380. 37 The 5th Lateran Council, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. II, Washington DC , caput II, De perpetuitate primatus beati Petri in Romanis pontificibus, p. 640.19 The Roman Pontiff possess… the supreme power of teaching… that saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’, cannot fail of its effect… the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished…”38
Picking up the thread of the 5th Lateran and 1st Vatican Councils, the 2nd Vatican Council (1962-1965) declares: “The bishops, when they are teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are toe be respected by all as witnesses to the divine and Catholic truth… The religious assent of the will and intellect is to be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Pontiff even when he is not speaking ex cathedra.39
In his teaching authority, which is “supreme, full and immediate”,40 the Roman Pontiff exercises a magisterial office like no other in the Church. Indeed, when Christ constituted his divinely revealed truths once and for all in his one and unchanging Public Revelation (depositum fidei), he did so in order that Peter, and those who occupy his Apostolic seat, would transmit this revelation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even wen he is not speaking ex cathedra. Thus the Roman Pontiff and those bishops in union with him and never apart from him, continue to “explicate” throughout the course of the centuries Christ’s one Public Revelation.41 Therefore, all the members of the Catholic Church happily enjoy the sure guarantee of the unfailing guidance of Peter, the rock, and his successors to whom jesus Christ gave the pledge of victory over the falsehoods of hell for all time.”