Bro. Peter Dimond
This video will cover some very important passages that deal with the Catholic Church’s teaching that someone who holds office in the Church, but preaches notorious heresy, loses authority from the moment that he preaches the heresy, even if no declaration has been made against him.
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Chap. 30: “... a manifestly heretical Pope automatically ceases to be the Pope and the head just as he automatically ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church, and that for this reason he may be judged and punished by the Church. This is the judgment of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction...”
This is relevant to the correct Catholic position in our day, that the post Vatican II claimants to the Papacy are heretical antipopes and that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant (often referred to as the sedevacantist position). The passages we will focus on come from Pope St. Celestine in regard to the heretic Nestorius, and the principle we will cover applies not only to loss of office for heresy but also to how heresy impedes the assumption of office.
Nestorius was the Bishop of Constantinople. He was condemned as a heretic at the Council of Ephesus in 431 for denying that Mary is the Mother of God and for contradicting the truth that Jesus Christ is one divine person. Our Lord is, of course, one Divine Person with two natures. St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, opposed and refuted Nestorius. Cyril presided at the Council of Ephesus under the authority of the pope at the time, Pope St. Celestine.
Nestorius was formally deposed by the Council of Ephesus in 431. However, Nestorius’ false teaching had been condemned at a synod in Rome in 430, the year before. In 430 Pope St. Celestine also commissioned St. Cyril to act on his behalf, to admonish Nestorius, to inform him that unless he recanted within ten days he would be excommunicated and Cyril would administer his See on behalf of Rome. Pope Celestine clearly exercised authority over both St. Cyril and Nestorius, and Cyril recognized Celestine’s authority to do so. Although this video is not about the proof for the Papacy in the early Church, the case of Nestorius is another example of how the papal primacy of jurisdiction was recognized in the East at that time. The case of Nestorius in fact proves both Catholicism and the sedevacantist position.
Now, before Nestorius was formally deposed by the Council of Ephesus and while ecclesiastical processes against him were underway, in the summer of 430 Pope St. Celestine wrote a number of letters about the situation. One was to John of Antioch, in which he stated:
“Si quis vero ab episcipo Nestorio aut ab iis qui eum sequuntur, ex quo talia praedicare coeperunt, vel excommunicatus vel exutus est seu antistitis seu clerici dignitate, hunc in nostra communione et durasse et durare manifestum est, nec iudicamus eum remotum: quia non poterat quenquam eius removere sententia, qui se iam præbuerat ipse removendum.”
Pope St. Celestine I, To John Of Antioch, AD 430: “But if anyone has either been excommunicated or stripped of episcopal or clerical dignity by Bishop Nestorius or by those who follow him, after they began to preach such things [i.e. the Nestorian heresy], it is manifest that such a person has continued firmly and still continues firmly in Our communion, and We judge him not to have been removed: because the sentence of that man who had already shown that he himself should be removed was not able to remove anyone.”
Consider what the pope says here. He teaches that Nestorius’ acts of excommunication or deposition, from the time he began to preach heresy, were invalid. He also says that he [i.e. Nestorius] who had shown that he should be removed was not able to remove anyone. So, Nestorius lacked the authority to remove anyone before he was declared removed by a Church judgment, by virtue of the fact that he demonstrated that he should be removed for preaching heresy. Thus, before any removal or declaration, the person who preached such heresies was unable to act. Celestine is clearly teaching that Nestorius, from the moment he began to preach his heresy, automatically lost his jurisdiction or authority. This further proves that manifest and notorious heretics lose jurisdiction before they are officially declared or condemned by any sentence or judgment of a man. They are automatically severed from the Catholic Church and deprived of authority by the divine law.
Celestine makes similar points in his letter to the clergy and people of Constantinople sent out at the same time. He stated:
“Ne tamen vel ad tempus, eius videatur valere sententia, qui in se iam divinam sententiam provocarat, aperte Sedis nostrae sanxit auctoritas, nullum sive episcopum sive clericum seu professione aliqua christianum qui a Nestorio vel eius similibus, ex quo talia praedicare coeperunt, vel loco suo vel communione deiecti sunt, vel eiectum vel excommunicatum videri. Sed hi omnes in nostra communione et fuerunt et usque nunc perdurant, quia neminem vel deiicere vel removere poterat qui praedicans talia titubabat.” (Caelestiims Papa, epist. 11, n. 7, Migne, Patr. Lat. Tom. 50)
Pope St. Celestine, To The Clergy And People Of Constantinople: “Nevertheless, lest the sentence of him who had already called down a divine sentence upon himself should appear to have force even for a time, the authority of Our Apostolic See has openly ordained that no bishop, cleric, or Christian of any profession, who were deposed from their position or from communion by Nestorius and those of his ilk from the time [ex quo] they began to preach heresy, is to be seen as either deposed or excommunicated. But all these have been and until now remain in Our communion, because he who stumbled in preaching such things was not able to depose or remove anyone.”
As we can see, the pope teaches the same truth about automatic loss of jurisdiction and invokes the authority of the Apostolic See. He explicitly states that Nestorius had already called down a divine sentence on himself. That’s a reference to the divine law which expels manifest heretics from the Catholic Church automatically and deprives them of jurisdiction. His words speak for themselves. Nevertheless, certain extremely dishonest anti-sedevacantist heretics actually have the audacity to claim that all Celestine is saying here is that excommunications and depositions inflicted by Nestorius and those like him were nullified by a later declaration.
That’s nonsense. It hardly requires a response. However, to further refute the claim, one can note that when Celestine refers to the time or moment from which [ex quo] Nestorius and those of his ilk began to preach heresy (praedicare coeperunt), which was well before Nestorius was sentenced or declared excommunicated, the pope says that Nestorius was not able to depose or remove anyone. He uses the imperfect poterat, which refers to past time. Literally, Celestine writes that Nestorius was able to remove no one (neminem). So, from the time or moment [ex quo] Nestorius began to preach heresy (praedicare coeperunt), he was unable to remove anyone. Of course that does not mean that Nestorius was able to remove people until a later declaration was issued. No, it means that he lost his authority to remove or depose anyone from the moment his heretical preaching began, well before any declaration by the Church or any man. Anyone who would deny that Celestine is articulating the principle that manifest heretics automatically lose authority by the divine law is dishonest.
This is also why St. Robert Bellarmine, in book II, Chap. 30 of De Romano Pontifice, in his section on how manifest heretics automatically lose jurisdiction before any judgment or excommunication, cites these two passages from Celestine to bolster his argument. After citing the passages, Bellarmine states that “[Pope] Nicholas I repeats and confirms the same.”
So, Celestine’s teaching that Nestorius lost authority from the moment he began to preach heresy, and that manifest heretics lose jurisdiction automatically, is the position of the Apostolic See and the popes. Immediately after citing these passages, Bellarmine refutes the objection of some who argue that Celestine and other fathers were referring to merely ecclesiastical laws then in force about automatic loss of jurisdiction, which, according to them, were overturned by the ecclesiastical law of the Council of Constance. Bellarmine refutes that objection by stating:
“Nam Patres illi cum dicunt, haetericos amittere iurisdictionem, non allegant ulla iura humana, quae etiam forte tunc nulla exstabant de hac re, sed argumentantur ex natura haeresis. Concilium autem Constantiense, non loquitur nisi de excommunicatis; id est, de his, qui per sententiam Ecclesiae, amiserunt iurisdictionem. Haeretici autem etia ante excommunicationem sunt Extra ecclesiam, & privativi omni iurisdictione, sunt enim proprio iudicio condemnati; ut docet Apostolus ad Titum 3; hoc est praecisi a corpore Ecclesiae sine excommunicatione, ut Hieronymus exponit.”
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Chap. 30: “For when those Fathers say that heretics lose jurisdiction, they do not adduce any human laws, none of which perhaps even existed at that time on this matter, but they argue from the nature of heresy. The Council of Constance, on the other hand, does not speak except concerning the excommunicated; that is, concerning those who through a sentence of the Church have lost jurisdiction. Heretics, however, even before an excommunication are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment, as the Apostle teaches in Titus 3. In other words, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as Jerome explains.”
Thus, manifest heretics lose jurisdiction automatically, by the divine law itself, from the nature of heresy, before any excommunication. Anyone who reads Bellarmine on this will see that he makes the point over and over again that heretics are cut off from the Church through themselves, before any Church judgment, from the nature of heresy, etc. In spite of this, certain false traditionalists will tell you that what he really means is exactly the opposite: that people who preach heresy only lose authority after another person has judged or sentenced them. It’s outrageous misrepresentation.
Bellarmine’s position was that a manifest heretic loses authority and office prior to any declaration. That is clearly proven by his words and by his references to Pope St. Celestine on this matter who taught the same thing.
So, in consideration of these facts, to prove that the leaders of the Vatican II Sect don’t hold jurisdiction, one doesn’t even need to focus first on whether they are heretics (which of course they are). Rather, one can simply demonstrate that they preach heresy notoriously. Someone who preaches heresy notoriously cannot have jurisdiction over the faithful. As Bellarmine says:
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Chap. 30: “… it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she were compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”
If the individual is a wolf who devours people with heretical preaching, he doesn’t hold jurisdiction in the Catholic Church. The authority of the Church does not and cannot lead people to heresy. Bellarmine makes the same point that Pope St. Celestine did (about those who preach heresy lose jurisdiction) in Chap. 10 of on the Church Militant:
“Nam propterea Coelestinus et Nicolaus locis citatis dicunt, episcopum haereticum, ex quo haereses praedicare coepit, neminem potuisse solvere vel ligare…”
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Ecclesia Militante, Chap. 10: “For that reason [Popes] Celestine and Nicholas, in the passages cited, say that a heretical bishop, from the time he began to preach heresies, was not able to loose or bind anyone…”
Notice that he says, “from the time he began to preach heresies”. The key factor is what the person is preaching, not a declaration. There are also a few passages in Bellarmine about heretics that certain false traditionalists misunderstand and misuse. We will perhaps refute those misapplications in a different video or article; but the words of St. Robert Bellarmine here, and most importantly of Pope St. Celestine, speak for themselves.
This principle, that those who preach notorious heresy cannot possess jurisdiction, of course applies to Antipope Francis and the other Vatican II antipopes. Antipope Francis preaches notorious heresy by stating that it’s a sin to convert people to Catholicism, that Martin Luther was not wrong on justification, that there are Muslim, Protestant and Eastern ‘Orthodox’ martyrs, that Protestants and schismatics are inside the Church of Christ, that the divorced and ‘remarried’ may receive Holy Communion, that the death penalty is inadmissible, by promoting religious indifferentism, etc. We could go on. The very fact that he preaches those heresies and a false gospel proves that he cannot hold jurisdiction over the Church. That’s the teaching of the Catholic Church. The same principle applies generally to Francis’ apostate ‘bishops’ and the other Vatican II antipopes.
The principle that people who don’t profess the sound doctrine of the Church are not to be given obedience as office holders is also taught in the official catechism of St. Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church.
St. Peter Canisius, Summa Doctrinae Christinae (Catechism), On Holy Orders #7, 16th century: “… we owe faith and obedience to those only, who being lawfully ordained and sent by bishops, profess the sound doctrine of the Church. But of others we must carefully beware, as of enemies and pestiferous persons.”
Now, despite the force of these points, some will still object by arguing that St. Cyril of Alexandria, sometime after Nestorius began to preach heresy, deferred to Pope St. Celestine before formally announcing a break in communion with Nestorius. But that doesn’t contradict the points we are covering at all.
There is a distinction between a) the ecclesiastical law procedures by which one is penalized with all the effects of canon law and/or physically/administratively removed from office and all of its trappings and titles and b) the divine law principle which operates to expel a person from the Body of Christ and the possession of jurisdiction automatically, even if those who are supposed to enforce the ecclesiastical law penalties/procedures fail to do so. If there is a Catholic pope, such as Pope St. Celestine, it’s appropriate and prudent for the Bishop of Alexandria to let his superior, Pope Celestine, take the lead in the ecclesiastical process against a fellow bishop such as Nestorius; and it’s obvious that a real Catholic like Pope St. Celestine would do so. But that doesn’t mean that if Celestine never acted or, worse, decided to join the heretic Nestorius, that the divine law expelling Nestorius was not operating, or that Cyril would not then have acted to carry out ecclesiastical law. It was simply appropriate and humble for St. Cyril to let Pope Celestine take charge on the matter of how to deal with Nestorius according to ecclesiastical law.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter 11: “But we do not throw off communion with him openly, until we have communicated these matters to your reverence. Wherefore deign to specify what seems best, and whether it is necessary to be in communion with him sometimes, or to forbid henceforward openly because no one is in communion who thinks and teaches such things.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 1-50, translated by John I. McEnerney [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987], p. 63.)
But the divine law remains active in any case, enabling (and when it becomes clear enough, requiring) the faithful to reject the heretic, and Pope St. Celestine himself gives us the mind of the Church on this case when he teaches that Nestorius lost authority before the ecclesiastical procedures were carried out against him. Indeed, even in the above quotation from St. Cyril he acknowledges the divine law when he says: “no one is in communion who thinks and teaches such things.” Cyril therefore recognizes that someone who preached what Nestorius did was not in communion, but he was simply waiting for his superior to take the lead in treating Nestorius as having incurred all the effects of canon law. It’s also a fact, even admitted by anti-sedevacantists, that various Catholics at the time rejected Nestorius as outside the Church from the time he began to preach his heresies.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter 11: “When the most pious Nestorius was sitting on the throne in the assembly of the Church of Constantinople, he arose and dared to say in a loud voice, ‘If anyone says that Mary is the Mother of God, let him be anathema.’ And there was a great shout from all the people and they ran out. They did not want to associate any longer with those who had such opinions, so that even now the people of Constantinople keep away except from a few shallower ones, and those who flatter him. But nearly all the monasteries and their archimandrites, and many of the senators do not join him. They fear lest they be injured in faith, while he and those with him, whom he brought when going up from Antioch, say everything perverted.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 1-50, translated by John I. McEnerney [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1987], pp. 61-62.)
Some people also point out that, well, it was the Council of Ephesus that said it deposed Nestorius, as even Bellarmine acknowledges.
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Chap. 30: “The Council of Ephesus, as it is found in Evagrius, says that it deposed Nestorius by a command of a letter of the Roman Pope Celestine.”
Yes, because the words depose and deposition can, in various contexts, simply refer to physically removing one from office and all of its trappings. That ecclesiastical process of deposition can and should be carried out against one who had already lost the spiritual power attached to the office by divine law for preaching heresy. Again, Celestine teaches that Nestorius lost his jurisdiction when he began to preach his heresies, but Celestine still directed that a process be carried out against Nestorius to remove him completely (i.e. depose him) from everything associated with the office. So, depending upon the context, the word deposition can refer to physical removal from the office or to the automatic deprivation of spiritual power.
NOTORIOUS – DELICT OF HERESY
Now, in conclusion, let’s consider some other facts that refute a common error people make about heretics. Some false traditionalists claim that a person who says he’s a Catholic and has not been canonically warned or declared to be a heretic cannot be a heretic or especially a notorious heretic. That’s wrong. The book called The Delict Of Heresy by Fr. Eric. Mackenzie, Doctor of Canon Law, was published by the Catholic University of America and given an imprimatur in 1932. In it the author points out that a person who claims to be Catholic can not only be a heretic prior to being canonically warned or officially sentenced, but such a person can be a notorious heretic prior to being canonically warned or officially sentenced. Sadly, the book does contain some horrible modernism on the salvation issue which constitutes more evidence that the breakdown of the faith, especially on that matter, started before Vatican II. However, the author extremely knowledgeable about canon law and the delict of heresy.
He points out that there’s a distinction between the simple delict of heresy and a more aggravated form, the latter involving a rejection of canonical warnings.
On being guilty of the simple delict of heresy without any canonical warnings, he says:
Rev. Eric F. Mackenzie, The Delict Of Heresy, Catholic University of America, Imprimatur 1932, p. 44: “A delinquent guilty of the simple delict of heresy (who therefore has not continued in rebellious disregard of canonical warnings and punishments, nor joined any non-Catholic sect), incurs ecclesiastical excommunication in its simplest form.”
As we can see, directly contrary to what certain anti-sedevacantists and false traditionalists claim, one can be guilty of the canonical delict of heresy and be excommunicated before one has disregarded canonical warnings and without joining a non-Catholic sect (that is to say, while claiming to be a Catholic). One becomes such a heretic by pertinaciously denying or doubting a dogma.
Now we will show that the same author also acknowledges that the simple heretic, who has not been declared against, who does not join a non-Catholic sect (i.e. who claims to be Catholic), can be a notorious heretic (i.e. notorious in fact). Notorious in fact is distinguished from notorious in law.
Notorious in law refers to when a sentence has been passed by a canonical judge or the offender has confessed in court – in other words, it refers to a declaration and a canonical process.
Notorious in fact, however, doesn’t require any declaration or canonical process. It doesn’t require that the offender join a non-Catholic sect. Notorious in fact refers to when the offending action is publicly known and its sinful or imputable character is also publicly known.
Let’s give an example. Suppose it’s widely reported in Catholic circles that a priest said something heretical on the Trinity. But it’s not known if he was just mistaken or knowingly contradicting Catholic teaching on the matter. Also suppose that it was a finer point, not a basic point, on the Trinity. In that case the offense, even though well known, would not necessarily notorious in fact because although a) the offense was widely known, b) the sinful character or imputability of it was not.
This is a quote from A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, by Woywod and Smith (1943), on notorious in fact.
Woywod and Smith, A Practical Commentary On The Code Of Canon Law, Imprimatur 1957, p. 448: “An offense is notorious by notoriety of fact, if it is publicly known and committed under such circumstances that it cannot be concealed by any subterfuge, nor excused by any excuse admitted in law (i.e., both the fact of the offense and the imputability or criminal liability must be publicly known…”
Now consider Francis. He is a notorious heretic (notorious in fact) because a) his heretical statements are publicly known by millions and b) it’s publicly known that he knowingly contradicts Catholic dogma. It is known by millions that he says many things that contradict Catholic dogma on salvation, the Church, marriage, evangelism, etc. The sinful character of his offenses, the imputability involved, is also publicly known. (See the clips in our video.) Many thousands of people around the world denounce him for his sinful contradiction of Christian dogmas. In fact, Francis himself has proven his own imputability and the sinful character of his actions by admitting that his teaching may be heresy (and therefore that he doesn’t care).
Francis, Greetings for “US Christian Unity event” [a heretical ecumenical gathering in Phoenix, Arizona,] Vatican Radio, May 23, 2015:
“And it comes to my mind to say something that may be foolish, or perhaps a heresy, I don't know.”
Spanish: “Y me viene a la mente decir algo que puede ser una insensatez, o quizás una herejía, no sé.” link
When he admits that he may be teaching heresy, and therefore that he doesn’t care, he proves his guilt/imputability publicly. His imputability is proven by many other things as well. So, Francis is a notorious heretic. He is notorious in fact, without any doubt. A notorious heretic cannot hold office in the Church.
It should also be noted that heresy can be manifested by deeds and omissions, in addition to statements. Francis’ actions, in addition to his statements, prove that he is a notorious heretic.
Rev. Eric F. Mackenzie, The Delict Of Heresy, Catholic University of America, Imprimatur 1932, p. 35: “Words are the ordinary, but not the only means of communication. Complete externalization of thought may exist in signs, acts or omissions… The delict of heresy, then, will have many forms… The very commission of any act which signifies heresy, e.g., the statement of some doctrine contrary or contradictory to a revealed and defined dogma, gives sufficient grounds for juridical presumption of heretical depravity.”
Now here is Fr. Mackenzie admitting that a simple heretic (which he already explained is one who has not been sentenced, not been canonically warned and not necessarily joined any non-Catholic sect) can be notorious in fact.
Rev. Eric F. Mackenzie, The Delict Of Heresy, Catholic University of America, Imprimatur 1932, p. 45: “All sentenced heretics are notorious at least with notoriety of law. Some simple heretics and some heretics who join a non-Catholic sect may be notorious in fact, but the rest, representing perhaps the ordinary case, will be only occult deliquents.”
So, one can be a notorious heretic without any canonical warning, without any declaration, and while claiming to be Catholic. Francis is a notorious heretic. The same is true of his so-called bishops who follow Vatican II and the other apostate antipopes of the Vatican II Sect, the prophesied end-times Counter Church.
Mackenzie also acknowledges that one can be notorious in fact without any judicial process in this passage about a certain canon:
Rev. Eric F. Mackenzie, The Delict Of Heresy, Catholic University of America, Imprimatur 1932, p. 111: “If the delict of heresy had been notorious, either in fact or by judicial process, there is less opportunity of applying this canon.”
So, people can be notorious in fact without a judicial process.
Anyone who tells you that Francis (who preaches a false gospel and heresies regularly) isn’t a notorious heretic doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Notorious heretics, and those who preach notorious heresy, cannot hold office, as we’ve proven from the teaching of Pope St. Celestine. It’s also sinful to obstinately recognize such people in the face of the facts as having authority in the Church. It leads to all kinds of false conclusions: it contradicts the unity of the Church; it compromises the true profession of the faith; and it encourages people to submit to a wolf by whom they will be devoured. The true Catholic position is that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant. That’s the position Catholics must take. The true Catholic Church still exists with a remnant of true traditional Catholics. You are listening to a member of the true Catholic Church in our day. The current situation in Rome was prophesied, as our material shows.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.