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The Heresies of Fr. James Wathen
-that heretics are Catholics; that the Catholic Church is apostate; that Peter is the head of a false Church; that Catholics must recognize unbelievers as authorities in the Church-
By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
We include this discussion of the theological position of Fr. James Wathen vis-à-vis the Vatican II sect on our website because his books have influenced – and are still influencing – many people in the way to view the post-Vatican II apostasy, as well as those heretics who have implemented it. Just this week, we received another e-mail from someone who had been influenced by his writings. Thus, it was about time that his writings were specifically addressed on our website.
First of all, I want to state that we do this only because it is necessary and because Fr. Wathen has demonstrated for years an obstinate rejection of the truths that will be discussed. Various persons we know, including ourselves, have endeavored to charitably point out to Fr. Wathen where his position is mistaken regarding the Vatican II sect; yet he refuses to listen to the facts that are presented – year after year – and he continues to promote the same untenable ideas.
Giving Credit where Credit is Due
For those who don’t know, Fr. James Wathen is a validly ordained traditional priest who was ordained before the changes to the Rite of Ordination by Antipope Paul VI. He never accepted the New Mass and from the beginning condemned it with vigor. For this he deserves tremendous credit. Fr. Wathen is also one of the few priests in the country who believes in the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation and holds that all who die unbaptized and without the Catholic Faith cannot be saved. However, he does seem to regard as Catholic priests who reject this dogma. Fr. James Wathen is also one of the few traditional priests in the country who strenuously condemns the sinful birth control practice of “Natural Family Planning.” In those areas, Fr. Wathen deserves much credit and has positively influenced many Catholics and strengthened the faith of many.
Fr. Wathen is also one of the few traditional priests in the country who takes the solidly Catholic position that he will not give Communion to those who attend the New Mass. He also teaches the New Mass must not be attended for any reason, including funerals, weddings, etc.
Fr. Wathen Admits That John Paul II Is A Blatant Heretic
Fr. James Wathen is also one of the few priests or writers in the “traditional” movement who has been honest enough to label John Paul II an outright heretic – although, in truth, this is to be expected of every honest person who has seen what John Paul II has done. Nevertheless, his position on this matter is rare because most of the “traditional” writers are dishonest and will never label John Paul II what he is: an outright heretic.
So, then, you may ask: why does he still believe that John Paul II is the Pope? The answer is that Fr. Wathen holds that once a Catholic, always a Catholic, even if one has been excommunicated for heresy.
Fr. Wathen’s principal heresy: “once a Catholic always a Catholic”
His statement here is incorrect. This mistake constitutes Fr. Wathen’s principal heresy. It is the reason that he still accepts John Paul II as the Pope, even though he admits over and over again that John Paul II is not a Catholic; that he is a blatant heretic; that he is a non-believer; that he is an atheist, etc. Fr. Wathen believes that once a person is a baptized Catholic he always remains a Catholic, even if he is excommunicated for heresy. He believes that those excommunicated for heresy are in mortal sin and are separated from the communal life of the Church, but that they are still part of the Church. But this is false. It would actually mean that Martin Luther remained a Catholic and part of the true Church after he started the Protestant revolution.
It is true that once a priest always a priest: Thou art a priest forever according to the Order of Melchisedech. But it is not true to say that heretics are not expelled from the Catholic Church. Those who are automatically excommunicated for heresy or schism or apostasy are expelled from the Catholic Church ipso facto and cease to be Catholic. This is a dogma. Here are some dogmatic and Magisterial statements which teach exactly the opposite of Fr. Wathen.
The Catholic Church contradicts Fr. Wathen and teaches that all heretics cease to be Catholic and are outside the Church
Here we can see that all Catholics are bound under pain of mortal sin to believe that a heretic is outside the Catholic Church. Here are some other testimonies from the Magisterium which affirm this fact.
Here we see again, directly contrary to the teaching of Fr. Wathen, that heresy does sever a man from the Church.
Here we see again, directly contrary to the teaching of Fr. Wathen, that heretics are not Catholic anymore. They do not always remain Catholic.
One can see that the Church teaches the opposite of what Fr. Wathen teaches. Fr. Wathen may have been mistaken in good faith on this point for some time, until the Church’s teaching (and how his position conflicts with it) was specifically pointed out to him. But that has been done. That time has passed, and Fr. Wathen still has not changed his position. We know people who have tried to bring this to Fr. Wathen’s attention. But he obstinately refuses to look at the teaching of the Church on this matter. I personally tried to call Fr. Wathen and charitably discuss the issue. He up on me less than one minute into the conversation. That is 1) quite cowardly; and 2) a demonstration that he fears the teaching of the Church on this issue. He fears having to admit that he has been wrong more than he fears denying the Catholic faith.
In fact, we know someone who personally approached Fr. Wathen with Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Satis Cognitum, in which Pope Leo teaches clearly that if any one holds to one single heresy “he is not a Catholic." Fr. Wathen refused even to look at it. This is obstinacy in heresy. It has persisted for years now, so there is no excuse for him. That's why he is a heretic, sadly.
As quoted above, the truth that heretics are not Catholics and that they cease to be part of the Church was defined in the Bull Cantate Domino of Pope Eugene IV. Ironically, Fr. Wathen begins Chapter One of his book, Who Shall Ascend? (p. 16), by quoting this Bull and its teaching that all heretics are outside the Catholic Church! He then goes on to say on the next page about this Bull:
So, according to page 17 of his book, to modify or qualify in any way the Bull Cantate Domino’s teaching (including its teaching that heretics are outside the Church) is to deny this Bull. Yet his own book contradicts the teaching of this Bull by asserting that heretics are still part of the Catholic Church. While he may have simply missed the significance of this years ago, there is no excuse for him any longer.
Thus, one can see that Fr. Wathen’s position that John Paul II is a heretic, but still the Pope, is completely untenable. All who admit that John Paul II is a heretic (as all who see the facts must), must admit that he is outside the Catholic Church and therefore not the Pope. This is why the saints and doctors (as we have quoted many times) unanimously teach that a heretic cannot be the pope.
Fr. Wathen’s false teaching that heretics always remain Catholics, and therefore that John Paul II is still the Pope, has led him to confuse the Catholic Church with the Vatican II sect. It leads to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is apostate.
Fr. Wathen says that John Paul II is the head of the Catholic Church and also the head of the “Conciliar Church” – a “Church” which he admits is an apostate, non-Catholic sect
Here we see that Fr. Wathen says that the Conciliar “Church,” i.e., the Vatican II Church headed by John Paul II (the word Conciliar referring to the Vatican II Council), is not the Catholic Church. He even says there is no salvation within the Conciliar, i.e. the Vatican II sect. Yet, he says that this Conciliar Church is inside the Catholic Church! This is impossible; for the Catholic Church cannot be contaminated.
It is contrary to Catholic teaching to say that the Catholic Church can be contaminated. But Fr. Wathen’s position is that the Catholic Church is not only contaminated but that it contains a non-Catholic sect within itself! This is clearly false and offensive to Catholic doctrine. This leads him to equate a non-Catholic sect (the Conciliar Church) with the Catholic Church.
One must abide in the Church’s very bosom in order to be saved.
But to abide in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church, according to Fr. Wathen, is to abide in a non-Catholic sect!
Fr. Wathen equating the Catholic Church with what he admits is an apostate, non-Catholic sect
In his book, Fr. Wathen indicates over and over again that the Conciliar Establishment (headed by John Paul II) is a non-Catholic sect. Now please watch as he equates the Catholic Church with this heresy filled, non-Catholic, “Conciliar Establishment.”
Notice that Fr. Wathen says that the John Paul II is responsible for all the rampant heresy in the Church (i.e. the Catholic Church). So, Fr. Wathen is saying that this heresy is in the Catholic Church. He then says that this heresy is so rampant in the Conciliar Church (the Vatican II Church) that it might be called the “consensus theology.” He has clearly equated the Catholic Church with the Conciliar Church. He has clearly equated the one true Church of Christ, indefectible and immaculate, with the Conciliar Church – a Church that he admits is an apostate, non-Catholic sect!
Notice that Fr. Wathen’s statement directly contradicts Pius XI in Quas Primas. The logical conclusion of Fr. Wathen’s false position is that the Catholic Church has defected. That is basically what he says in his book, whether he understands it or not.
Fr. Wathen telling us that Peter (the Pope) is the head of the true Church and a false Church, which is impossible
So, according to Fr. Wathen, John Paul II is the head of the true Church of Christ while at the same time he is the head of a false non-Catholic sect. This is impossible; for where Peter is, there is the Church.
To make, therefore, John Paul II a true Petrus is to make the Vatican II Church a true Ecclesia. Where there is a true Peter, there is a true Church; where there is a false Peter, there is a false Church. But not: where there is a false Peter, there is a true Church, nor where there is a true Peter, there is a false Church. Impossible, for the Pope is the principle of unity in the Catholic Church. The identity of the Catholic Church, therefore, is inseparable from the identity of the Roman Pontiff. You cannot separate Pope and Church.
Therefore, to acknowledge the Vatican II Church as a false Church requires that one acknowledge its head, Antipope John Paul II, as a false Peter. On the other hand, to acknowledge Antipope John Paul II as a true Peter requires that one acknowledge his false Vatican II Church as a true Church.
Fr. Wathen making the Church two folds with one Shepherd, instead of one fold and one Shepherd
Fr. Wathen’s position also makes the Church two folds with one shepherd. He would have you believe that when Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “And there shall be one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:16), that He really meant “And there shall be two folds and one shepherd.” Two folds: 1) The Catholic Church and 2) The Vatican II Church, simultaneously under one Vicar of Christ, John Paul II.
Since in the true Church of Christ there is only one flock and one shepherd and a unity of faith, to acknowledge a “head” in Antipope John Paul II and condemn his flock as the “new”, non-Catholic Church is equivalent to schism.
Fr. Wathen’s position is completely schismatic
Fr. Wathen not only refuses communion with the people subject to his Pope, but he refuses communion with the entire “Church” which is subject to his Pope (the “Conciliar Church”). Please tell me how this is not schismatic? It’s like the situation with the Society of St. Pius X, which operates a world-wide priestly apostolate completely independent of the bishops they recognize as the Catholic hierarchy. At the beginning of the Vatican II revolution one could possibly understand the SSPX’s position in this regard: they wanted to resist the new religion and preserve the Latin Mass. But they did not see all the implications of what was happening in Rome. After decades, however, they had to ask themselves: If the Novus Ordo/Vatican II sect is so bad and non-Catholic (which it is) that we must be independent of it, then we cannot recognize this hierarchy as the Catholic hierarchy. On the other hand, if the Novus Ordo/Vatican II sect is still Catholic and therefore the true hierarchy (as the SSPX says), then we have no justification for operating independently of it and we are truly schismatic. The SSPX and Fr. Wathen still operate independently of the bishops they recognize as the hierarchy and are truly schismatic.
This is why Fr. Wathen refuses Communion to people who go to the Indult Mass (the Latin Mass under the Novus Ordo Bishop). The SSPX also discourages Catholics from attending the Indult Mass. But how can they consistently hold that it's a compromise of the faith to attend the Indult Mass (the Latin Mass celebrated under the authority of the bishop they say Catholics must recognize as the lawful Bishop)! It is schismatic!
There are a few things that are worthy of note here: 1) Fr. Wathen says that John Paul II’s faith is that of the Conciliar Church. This means that John Paul II does not have the Catholic faith, since Fr. Wathen admits in this very quotation that: “Unless one positively removes oneself from, and disavows the heterodoxy of, the Conciliar Church, one has lapsed from the Faith.” But all in the Church must have the same faith as the Pope! So, Fr. Wathen’s position requires one to have a non-Catholic faith.
Is Fr. Wathen divided in faith from John Paul II? Of course he is. He denounces John Paul II as a non-believer and his “Church” as a non-Catholic sect! But all in the same Body must have the same faith. Therefore, since he claims that John Paul II is the pope, the head of his body, he has John Paul II’s non-Catholic faith.
2) Fr. Wathen admits that the official doctrine of the Conciliar Church, which John Paul II heads, is that the Catholic faith does not matter. Therefore, the official doctrine of the Conciliar Church is heresy. But John Paul II is also the head of the Catholic Church, according to Fr. Wathen. So he must admit that the official doctrine of the Catholic Church is also heresy.
Confusing the Catholic Church with the Conciliar Church/ Confusing the Bride of Christ with a harlot
Here we see Fr. Wathen indicating that it is within the non-Catholic sect he calls “the Conciliar Church” that one finds the historical continuity of the true Church. Huh?
Here we see Fr. Wathen stating that it is not the Catholic Church that the Conciliar Establishment preserves, but that the Conciliar Establishment means to maintain control of the jurisdictional power of the true Church. Huh?
Fr. Wathen and judging “the Pope”
Fr. Wathen attempts to justify his heretical and schismatic position by telling people again and again that “No one can judge the Pope.” The actual teaching of the Church to which he is referring is that the “The First Seat will not be judged by anyone.”
This has nothing to do with recognizing that a manifest heretic such as Antipope John Paul II is not a Catholic and therefore not the Pope. This teaching means that the authoritative decrees emanating from the Chair of Peter cannot be rejected.
It is Fr. Wathen and others who accept John Paul II as the Pope who reject the authoritative proclamations of what they deem to be “the Holy See.” Fr. Wathen rejects Antipope John Paul II’s solemn Canonization of Josemaria Escriva, which John Paul II proclaimed from the “Holy See.” This proves again that Fr. Wathen is a schismatic and a heretic.
Besides his rejection of John Paul II’s solemn “Canonizations,” Fr. Wathen judges his “Pope” over and over again. He judges that he is a heretic, a non-believer and that he will pay horribly in hell.
I would say that that is “judging” his “Pope,” wouldn’t you? So, what exactly does “No one can judge the Holy See” mean to you, Fr. Wathen? Obviously, the dogma “No one can Judge the Holy See” (the First Seat) does not have anything to do with recognizing a non-Catholic, manifest heretic such as John Paul II for what he is – a non-Catholic with no authority in the Church.
Here again we see Fr. Wathen saying that Catholics must judge the doctrine of his “Pope.” He even gives 23 recommendations for him to restore the Church.
The Catholic Church does not need restoration. The words of Fr. Wathen were directly condemned by Pope Gregory XVI.
The fact is that in recognizing that Antipope John Paul II is not the Pope, one is not judging the Holy See or a Pope – but rather one is correctly identifying a non-Catholic for what he is.
One could go on with the discussion of Fr. Wathen’s position. But the point should be clear: it is not tenable for any Catholic; it is schismatical and heretical. To say that one refuses communion with the Vatican II sect of John Paul II, but maintains communion with John Paul II (the head of the Vatican II sect), is like saying:
The Church headed by Peter is not our greatest enemy; it cannot be apostate; and it cannot lead souls to hell. The fact that the “Church” headed by John Paul II is a Catholic’s greatest enemy, is non-Catholic and is apostate, shows us again that John Paul II is not Peter.
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