Judging the matter of Christian unity

gavel3On the heels of yesterday’s post, it would seem that a Catholic primer on Christian unity is in order.

DOGMA: The Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ, and he who departs from the faith in even one point of doctrine proposed by the Church’s authoritative Magisterium is outside Catholic communion and, therefore, outside communion with the Church of Christ; i.e., such persons do not enjoy Christian unity.

HERESY: Heretics enjoy “partial communion” with the Church of Christ.

HERESY: Heretics enjoy Christian unity (i.e., unity with the one Church of Christ) along with the children of the Catholic Church, whether Anglican, Lutheran, etc.

DOGMA: Unity is a mark of the one Church of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church, and this unity cannot be destroyed or in any way torn asunder by the will of men (e.g., those who would depart from her).

HERESY: The Church of Christ, His Mystical Body (aka the Holy Catholic Church) has been wounded by the fragmentation and division that exists among the heretics.

HERESY: Catholics, along with heretics, are traveling a path “toward unity.”

DOGMA: The only way for heretics to attain to Christian unity is to enter into communion with (i.e., convert to) the one true Church of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church; united in one law of belief, partaking of the same sacraments, under one visible authority, that of Christ’s Vicar, the pope.

HERESY: Catholics are, and indeed must, seek with the heretics a “unity” that is either undefined, or imagined to be a form of common prayer, witness or service, etc.; i.e., “unity” that is not explicitly defined as the return of the heretics to the one true Church of Christ.

[NOTE: The dogmatic teachings referenced above are given in the following (not exclusively) Mystici Corporis, Humani Generis, Mortalium Animos, Satis Cognitum.]

That Pope Francis has actively promoted each of the heresies listed above is beyond any doubt. In this, he is not alone among the conciliar popes.

He does, however, stand out for having made the following statement this past weekend:

I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps. But there is someone who “knows” that, despite our differences, we are one. It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom. He knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic…he doesn’t care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites.

The simple fact that Pope Francis realizes that his comments “may sound … heretical” is evidence that he knows very well that he is bucking against what “some”  understand to be the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church. This is the very definition of that which is heretical.

Clearly, the pope finds this concern of sufficient credibility to merit being mentioned publicly. This is important.

While Pope Francis does not give any indication that he agrees with those who believe that his commentary is heretical, by addressing this opinion directly, he makes it known that he is aware of the gravity of his commentary.

In other words, he can no longer deny having at least some comprehension of what is at stake here; it is not simply the sensibilities of certain pious men that are being challenged, but rather immutable Catholic teaching.

This, in my opinion, ups the ante considerably, so to speak.

If previously it wasn’t entirely clear to the faithful members of the College of Cardinals (if indeed there are any) that the time is nigh to formally require this pope to either confirm or deny his assent to authoritative Catholic teaching on the matter at hand, it should be now.

There can be no question, based upon the magisterium of numerous popes as so very clearly given in the century leading up to the Council (see links above), that Pope Francis’ statements are, objectively speaking, heretical; making of him a material heretic.

The only question that remains – one that needs to be answered for the good of the Church – is whether or not Jorge Bergoglio is a formal heretic; meaning, he knowingly rejects that which the Church requires one to believe in order to remain in the Church of Christ, that is, Catholic.

In order for this question to be answered, a process must take place. (Again, I cannot encourage you enough to see Robert Siscoe’s article on the topic.)

If this process ever came to pass, and Pope Francis were made to answer for his material heresy, I would not expect him to say, “Catholic dogma says ‘X,’ but I reject that in favor of ‘Y.’”

What I can well imagine him saying is something along the lines of:

“At one time the Catholic Church required the faithful to believe ‘X’ in order to remain in the Church, I believe that this is no longer the case and we are called to believe ‘Y.’”

Or perhaps more likely:

“At one time the Catholic Church required the faithful to believe ‘X’ in order to remain in the Church, but the Second Vatican Council opened the way for a deeper understanding; namely, ‘Y.'”

The former is enough for the pope to judge himself to be a formal heretic, as the immutability of Catholic dogma is a dogmatic teaching in its own right.

The latter would put the Council itself on the witness stand as a defendant (where it most certainly belongs).

In any case, my sense is that there isn’t enough faith in Rome for that process to take place. The College of Cardinals as a whole seem far too disoriented to think beyond their blind attachment to the Council and are, therefore, highly unlikely to ever do such a thing.

I hope that I’m wrong.

For those with the stomach for such things, below is the full statement issued by Pope Francis this weekend. In it, he repeats several of the heresies listed above in addition to the one already quoted.

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