Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are Catholics Allowed to Question the Church?

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to
guide us into all truth
One of the greatest things about being Catholic is that you don't have to ever second guess the Church.  We know the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, and He has promised never to leave us.  He gave us the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, to guide and comfort us and to bring us into all truth, as our Lord told us in John 16:13, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth."  To reject the Church He founded is to call Jesus Christ a liar.

Sadly, this doesn't mean that individuals in the Church will never go off the rails.  We still have our free will and so are still very capable of rejecting the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That unfortunately includes bishops and priests.  In fact, bishops and priests might be more susceptible of falling to the wiles of the devil than even the laity are.  St. John Chrysostom, a doctor of the church who lived from 347 A.D. to 407 A.D., said that "few bishops are saved and many priests are damned".  This is why we must pray for them always.

We actually need to be aware that we don't have to accept everything that comes out of the mouth of a priest or bishop without question.  If something doesn't seem right to us, we need to question it and/or the person saying it, even if it is coming from a priest or bishop.  Not only can we hold our priests and bishops accountable for their words and actions, it is important and even imperative that we do so.  As I have previously quoted the Venerable Fulton Sheen:
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious

You will notice that Bishop Sheen does not include the Pope in this statement.  When it comes to faith and morals, there is one person we must never, never second guess, and that is the Holy Father.  We are given an ironclad promise that the Pope can never be wrong in matters of faith and morals.  This does not mean that the Pope will automatically be a holy and righteous person, but despite their personal failings, not one pope has ever led the Church astray on faith and morals.  The Holy Spirit makes sure of that. 


However, not every word and action of the Pope is infallible. We've had some fairly bad popes in the 2000+ year history of the Church. Pope Alexander VI, a thoroughly corrupt pope who even fathered children, comes to mind. The infallibility of the Pope does not extend to prudential matters.  As shown in the example of Pope Alexander VI, the Holy Father can be wrong in political decisions or personal matters.  For instance, I think Pope Benedict XVI was wrong when he recently praised Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini upon the Cardinal's death.  The Cardinal was very liberal and I feel was dangerous to the Church.  And His Holiness was sure wrong about his butler!  But this is not a matter of faith and morals, and the Pope is not infallible on these points. 
 
Another example is during the persecution of Catholics in Mexico in the 1920's, Pope Pius XI, after consultation with the United States government, told the Mexican Catholics not to fight the immoral government that was literally killing them.  In obedience to Rome, the Cristeros laid down their arms.  As a result, they continued to be hunted down and killed by the Masonic Mexican government until the 1950's.  Pope Pius XI was wrong in his command to the Cristeros.  The infallibility of the Pope does not extend to matters such as these.  In all of these examples, the Pope was not speaking ex cathedra, "from the chair."  The point is that being wrong in matters such as these does not invalidate the Pope. 

A shining example of how the Pope cannot be wrong in faith and morals is Humanae Vitae, the famous encyclical in which Pope Paul VI condemned the use of artificial birth control.  Pope Paul VI was and is considered one of our most liberal popes.  His legacy includes the creation of the New Mass, which many of us feel is one of the darkest spots in Catholic history.  Yet this Pope is also the one who gave us Humanae Vitae, possibly the most important document of the 20th Century.  Our world would be completely different if we had just followed this document.

There was much anticipation and speculation before Pope Paul VI released his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, with many priests telling their parishioners to feel free to use birth control because it was sure to be approved.  However, Pope Paul VI surprised them all by resoundingly condemning birth control and prophetically saying that it would lead to the downfall of society.  This was truly the work of the Holy Spirit which, in his office as the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI could not resist.  Pope Paul VI, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was dead on in his predictions of the effect of contraception:
On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae re-affirmed the Catholic teaching on life, love and human sexuality. In that document, he listed the consequences of life lived outside Catholic teaching.

He predicted that:

1. Contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity.

2. Contraceptive practice would lead to a “general lowering of morality.”

3. Contraception would lead men to cease respecting woman in their totality and would cause them to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners.

4. And finally, widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments.

In other words, Pope Paul VI predicted that contraception would evolve from “a lifestyle choice” into a weapon of mass destruction. How dreadfully his prophecy has been vindicated by population control and coercive sterilization programs, fertility reduction quotas and the promotion of abortion literally everywhere in the world.
I am not showing that Pope Paul VI was a great prophet.  He was able to predict these things only because, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope Paul VI was guided by the Holy Spirit, who would not allow His Holiness to say anything else.  If Hugh Hefner had been pope (God forbid!), he would have been forced to write Humanae Vitae just as Pope Paul VI wrote it. 

This posting is not about birth control, so what is all of this leading up to?  As Catholics we must always be aware of those who judge and condemn the Holy Father.  Sedevacantism - the rejection of the Holy Father as the legitimate Vicar of Christ - is always a sign of diabolical actions.  No human being has the right to judge the Pope in his official role as Vicar of Christ.  Only the Founder of the Church - Jesus Christ - can do that.  Run as far and as fast as you can from anyone who rejects the Pope as head of the Church, no matter how convincing their arguments may be.  To reject the Pope is to reject the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  And that is a sign of the devil.  We can and are actually commanded to pray for the Holy Father, but we are not free to judge him. 

However, this is exactly what a now breakaway group from the Society of St. Pius X has done.  They are very upset with the Society's attempts to reconcile with Rome, and have now rejected Rome and the SSPX and pledged their allegiance to the late Archbishop Lefebvre, a move that I am sure the good Archbishop would condemn.  This is what Archbishop LeFebvre wrote on November 8, 1979, which is taken directly from an SSPX website:
We wish to remain attached to Rome and to the Successor of Peter, while refusing his Liberalism through fidelity to his predecessors. We are not afraid to speak to him, respectfully but firmly, as did St. Paul with St. Peter.

And so, far from refusing to pray for the Pope, we redouble our prayers and supplications that the Holy Ghost will grant him light and strength in his affirmations and defense of the Faith.

Thus, I have never refused to go to Rome at his request or that of his representatives. The Truth must be affirmed at Rome above all other places. It is of God, and He will assure its ultimate triumph.

Consequently, the Society of St. Pius X, its priests, brothers, sisters, and oblates, cannot tolerate among its members those who refuse to pray for the Pope or affirm that the Novus Ordo Missae is per se invalid. Certainly, we suffer from this continual incoherence which consists in praising all the Liberal orientations of Vatican II and at the same time straining to mitigate its effects. But all of this must incite us to prayer and to the firm maintenance of Tradition rather than to the affirmation that the Pope is not the Pope.
In conclusion, we must have that missionary spirit which is the true spirit of the Church. We must do everything to bring about the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the words of our Holy Patron, St. Pius X: Instaurare omnia in Christo. We must restore all things in Christ, and we must submit to all, as did Our Lord in His Passion for the salvation of souls and the triumph of Truth. "In hoc natus sum," said Our Lord to Pilate, "ut testimonium perhibeam veritati."

 “I was born to give witness to the Truth."
* * *
Jesus giving St. Peter the Keys to the Kingdom
which have in turn been handed to each successor of St. Peter

As Catholics, our allegiance is always to the Church first and never to any man.  This breakaway group of the SSPX has followed exactly in the footsteps of Martin Luther, the great heretic who was the father of the Protestant Revolution.  They say their allegiance is to Archbishop LeFebvre, but they have denied him with their actions. 

Here is the article from Angelqueen which posts an article from traditio.com, a questionable Catholic website, to say the least, as you will see from this article.  Traditio presents this story as something to be applauded rather than condemned.  Their glaring contempt for anyone who supports the Pope shows that they are not in communion with the one, holy Catholic church founded by Jesus Christ. 

Priests Break away to Found an “SSPX of the Strict Observance”
 
 ["The die is cast." The content is relatively accurate, based on a longer raving, "War Aims by Fr. Chazal," at Ignis Ardens]

THE NEO-SSPX SPLIT BEGINS:
Priests Break away to Found an “SSPX of the Strict Observance”

From: TRADITIO.com
September 27 [sic; actually 24], 2012


Frs. Francois Chazal and Joseph Pfeiffer Founding the SSPX of the Strict Observance

On September 21, 2012, the announcement came forth like the trumpet of the Apocalypse: a new Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance was founded on August 10, 2012, by the Vienna (Virginia) Declaration. The founding members are five leading priests of the SSPX. 25 more SSPX “resistance priests” have been identified so far and are expected to form the core of the SSPX-SO.

Described in the words of the Declaration as a “united core of priests faithful to the position always maintained by Archbishop Lefebvre,” Frs. Joseph Pfeiffer, Ronald Ringrose, Richard Voigt, David Hewko, and Francois Chazal, coming from various areas around the world, signed the founding documents. Joining the priests in the SSPX-Strict Observance are a number of SSPX religious and laity, to name just a few: Mother Ann-Marie Simoulin, Dom Thomas Aquinas (Benedictines of Brazil), and Dr. David White, who has previously given classes at the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota.

The five founding fathers have elected Fr. Joseph Pfeiffer as their leader for a term of two years (compared to Fellay’s dictatorial 24 years). The fathers have refused to give up the name “Society of St. Pius X” because “we did not change the message; the official line of the [Neo-]SSPX has changed.” Although the founding fathers note that Fellay has not yet signed any “sellout deal” with Newrome [this sentence shows that the author of this article is just as much of a heretic as Martin Luther], they publicly “withdraw the exercise of obedience to him for motives of Faith until this crisis is over,” in order for the priests to maintain obedience to God in their sworn Anti-Modernist Oath. Ironically, this was the same Anti-Modernist Oath to God that Fellay himself swore when he entered Major Orders with Archbishop Lefebvre.

In addition to the 25 other priests whom Fellay has expelled or threatened to expel from his Neo-SSPX, the SSPX of the Strict Observance has announced that it will welcome “all the priests that Fellay sends them” — sardonically referring to the nearly three dozen priests whom Fellay has expelled, with more to be expelled, from his Neo-SSPX. Frankly, it is wonderful to see that the SSPX-SO has a sense of humor, as Our Lord had so often in Sacred Scripture, instead of the dictatorial, autocratic, humorless Fellay, who is more reminiscent of the corrupt leader of the Jewish Temple, Caiphas, who persecuted the Lord and took a cut of the Temple treasury, or more reminiscent of Judas, who stole from the apostles’ purse and betrayed the Lord. [Who is really the one who has betrayed the Lord - Bishop Fellay who accepts the God-given authority of the Pope, or these who reject the Vicar of Christ?]

The founding fathers indicate that anti-Fellay groups have appeared from everywhere, calling for help from the SSPX-SO and offering help to the new organization. The fathers say that it is not easy to cast them out of places that do not belong to Fellay and that they now understand Fellay’s adamant machinations to take legal possession of more and more properties away from the local NSSPX groups. It may well be that Fellay brought in the Jewish fund-raiser and Dresden lawyer Maximilian Krah to give him legal advice on how to do this. [What is the purpose of pointing out the ethnicity of Bishop Fellay's lawyer?  This says much more about the author of this article than it does about Bishop Fellay or his lawyer.]  The founding fathers are prudent enough to expect that the autocratic Fellay will unleash lawyers against them at some stage, but they say that they are prepared for this.

In a Declaration dated August 10, 2012, the founding fathers of the SSPX-SO stated that the Neo-SSPX crisis remains as long as its head, Bernie Fellay, teaches errors and allows errors to spread, thus dividing the flock.  Fellay is “excusing” the Modernist Vatican II Council instead of rejecting it. [Who are they to make this determination?] This Council’s chief advocate remains Benedict-Ratzinger [a term used to deny the authority of the Pope], who, the fathers state, is praising Vatican II continually, insisting that Mohammedans stay Mohammedans, preparing to Novus Ordo-beatify the successor of Josemaria Escriva (the Opus Dei cult leader), continuing to support the Focolari and other Modernist movements, et al.

The unCatholic teachings of the Modernist Vatican II Council are still raging in the person of one of its leaders, “Fr.” Ratzinger. Even if the “sellout deal” is off for the moment, Fellay remains committed to it. The fathers conclude by reminding Fellay’s Neo-SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre’s direct words: “Had I signed [the sellout] agreement, we would have been finished in one year.”
* * *
The author of this article is the kind of person all Catholics should shun.  He mixes truth with lies and writes in a hateful and spiteful manner.  Referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "Fr." Ratzinger borders on blasphemy, if it is not actually blasphemous.   Pope Benedict is the chosen successor to St. Peter, and as such, he deserves the respect due to that high office.

In sum, as Catholics, we are never allowed to question the teachings of the Church.  We are promised that the Magesterium of the Church is directly inspired by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  Yet, it is for this very reason - our obligation to accept on faith the teachings of the church - that we can and must question those who do not abide by those teachings, and that includes priests and bishops and certainly the author of the article from traditio.com.  However, we are never allowed to judge the Pope.  He is the chosen Vicar of Christ, chosen and led by the Holy Spirit.  That does not guarantee that he will be a righteous and holy person, but it does guarantee that he cannot lead the church astray in spiritual and moral matters.  If we don't  believe that, then we are calling our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, a liar.  By doing so, we are disavowing His Sacrifice and putting our souls in danger of eternal hell fire. 

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