Fiat Membership in the Church: “But he says he’s Catholic!”

By June of 2013, not even 90 days into the Bergoglian Occupation (which itself is merely a chapter in the decades-long Conciliar Occupation), the old quip, Is the pope Catholic? had already ceased being a laughing matter thanks to the antics of Jorge the Humble.    

For example, commenting on the “feeding of the 5,000” during one of his Angelus addresses that month, he declared: 

This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication, it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity.

Needless to say, a minor uproar ensued, with many ordinarily staid neo-conservatives openly questioning Bergoglio’s faith. But not to worry, Jimmy Aiken, Senior Apologist for Catholic Answers, was at the ready to restore confidence and calm.  

“We also know that, despite the way he phrases himself,” Aiken wrote, “particularly when speaking off the cuff (as he often does), that he’s a fundamentally orthodox man—a ‘son of the Church’ as he puts it.”

Evidently, even some high-profile conciliar churchmen liked the sound of that alibi, never mind the utter lack of corroborating evidence.

When questioned about his own downy soft criticism of the “Holy Father” in November of 2013, Archbishop Charles Chaput replied: 

Is there a discontinuity between the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, and the new kind of leadership of Francis? I think no. Francis keeps saying he is a ‘son of the Church.’

Today, eight long years and a steady stream of Bergoglian outrages later – including Amoris Laetitia, Pachamama idol pageants and a whole host of other abominations – I can’t recall the last time anyone invoked the “son of the Church” defense on his behalf.

Now don’t get me wrong, most people are still operating under the mistaken impression that Jorge Bergoglio is a member of the Church, but this has much to do with the fact that he also claims to be pope and, well, who are we to judge otherwise. 

Evidently, there exists a widespread moral weakness among many otherwise clear-thinking persons that effectively prevents them from acknowledging the plainly observable fact that, far from being the Holy Roman Pontiff, Bergoglio is less Catholic in his beliefs than your average Anglican teenager. It’s almost as though there’s a mystical power attached to the white cassock itself, which appears capable of turning certain grown men into the equivalent of a babbling young woman swooning in the presence of an unqualified suitor in uniform; his costume alone being enough to short circuit their ability to distinguish between image and reality.   

In any case, the “but he says he’s Catholic” standard for determining membership in the Church is being broadly applied with impunity by people who should very well know better, even though it’s like those amped up COVID-19 PCR tests, i.e., a false positive is practically guaranteed.   

Take, for example, the well-traveled tweet below from California Congressman Ted Lieu, paying particular attention to the response offered by our friend Karl Keating.

Yes, I know… I’ll likely be accused of picking on poor Karl given the fact that he is cited in back-to-back posts, but the teaching moment that he and Lieu are providing in this case is just too valuable to pass up.

So, is it really enough for a baptized individual to declare, “I’m Catholic,” or does membership in the Church entail something more? 

This is an important question, especially given today’s ecclesial climate wherein the USCCB is so inept that it cannot even manage to produce a statement on the proper disposition for the reception of Holy Communion without enlisting the help of a special committee, ordering the creation of carefully crafted drafts, calling for a series regional meetings and consultations, and all of this so the supposed-bishops can gather six months later to compare notes, at which time they will no doubt deliberate the matter to a slow and painful death.  

In other words, if you’re waiting for Archbishop José Gómez, President of the USCCB and Ted Lieu’s ordinary, to man-up and publicly address the congressman’s claim to membership in the Catholic Church, you’d be better off counting the days until Francis canonizes Archbishop Lefebvre.

Important though the matter at hand is, this ain’t rocket science, folks. The Church has long since addressed the requirements of membership. In brief:

The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church. (Rev. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pg. 309)

Fr. Ott explained further, citing the teaching of Pope Pius XII:

In the Encyclical “Mystici Corporis,” Pius XII declared: “Only those are to be accounted really members of the Church who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and profess the true faith, and have not cut themselves off from the structure of the Body by their own unhappy act or been severed therefrom, for very grave crimes, by the legitimate authority.” (ibid.)

For more clarity still, Pope Pius XII elaborates:

Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its 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. (Mystici Corporis, art. 69)

In this, it is clear that the “confession of the Faith” cited by Ott, and the “profession of the same faith” taught by Pius XII, concern public acts. 

Yes, but what about the indelible mark of Baptism, the Sacrament of initiation?

Ott addresses this as well, stating:

As the baptismal character which effects incorporation in the Church is indestructible, the baptized person, in spite of his ceasing to be a member of the Church, cannot cut himself off so completely from the Church, that every bond with the Church is dissolved.

In other words, the baptized non-member remains bound to the Church, that is, under her jurisdiction. As Ott states, “The obligations arising from the reception of Baptism remain.”

He also points out that a child who is baptized, even if in a heretical community, thereby becomes a member of the Church. That said, however:

The Confession of the true Faith and the adherence to the communion of the Church are for adults subjective conditions for the achievement and the unhindered perpetuation of their membership of the Church which is initiated by Baptism. Those children validly baptised outside the Church are members of the Church unless and until after reaching the use of reason, they voluntarily separate themselves from the Confession of the Faith or from the communion of the Church.

In summary, Fr. Ott explains that in order to maintain membership in the Church it is necessary to “subject oneself to the threefold office of the Church, the sacerdotal office (Baptism), the teaching office (Confession of Faith), and the pastoral office (obedience to the Church authority).”

So, how does Ted Lieu’s declaration relate to these requirements? 

After insisting upon his rejection of the Church’s teaching office by making a public confession of support for a list of intrinsic evils and condemned errors, he made plain his unwillingness to obey Church authority. In this, he has “cut himself off from the structure of the Body by his own unhappy act.” (See Mystici Corporis as cited above.) 

Like I said, this ain’t rocket science.

So why then is an intelligent man like Karl Keating, the influential Founder of Catholic [sic] Answers, publicly confirming Lieu’s membership in the Church? 

The reason is simple; it’s because he is consistent. 

Karl Keating is, and has always been, an apologist – not for the Holy Roman Catholic Church – but for the conciliar counterfeit church that was born at Vatican II, a society that, like Ted Lieu, also insists on calling itself Catholic in spite of so many proofs to the contrary. 

This, my friends, is one of the reasons why it is so crucially important for us to help the naïve and the ignorant understand the nature of membership in the Church. It’s not strictly for the purpose of identifying which individuals are, and which are not, truly Catholic, rather, it is, perhaps more importantly, about aiding them in identifying the one true Church of Christ.

Recall what Pope Pius XII taught as noted above:

Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest…

What this means is that where the members of the Catholic Church are, there the Catholic Church is, not in her entirety, of course, rather this is simply to say that in her members one encounters an actual part of the one true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. 

The visibility of the Church’s members and the fact that they can be identified with relative ease and distinguished from non-members, as demonstrated above, is one of the ways in which the Catholic Church is herself made visible and easily distinguished as the one social body uniquely established by Jesus Christ. 

This being so, those who do not grasp, and apply, the very simple requirements that govern membership in the Church as so clearly set forth by the Church are destined to be deceived into following a false religion.

In support of this claim, I call your attention to Exhibit A: 

In 2019 alone, Catholic Answers took in $6.2 million in donations and grants, capital that was used to deceive poor souls into believing that the apostates pictured above are actually Catholic, and their society is the one true Church of Christ. Can you help us set the record straight?