Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On Cardinal Burke's call for resistance

     According to Pope Pius XII, no Catholic can resist or oppose the teaching of a Pope once it becomes official (is entered in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis). If Pope Francis officially approves, as a result of the upcoming Synod on the Family, that the divorced and remarried, or those living in irregular unions, can receive Communion, and enters this in the Acta, then no Catholic can legitimately resists this teaching. 

      Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis:
"But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians." 

      On the other hand, Cardinal Burke has famously announced his reaction, if Pope Francis insists on his progressive path regarding Communion: "I will resist. I cannot do anything else. " Link.  Others are supporting  Burke's stance, saying they too will resist: See e.g.

      But as stated so clearly by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton in the American Ecclesiastical Review :
     "Thus, according to the clear teaching of the Humani generis, it is morally wrong for any individual subject to the Roman Pontiff to defend a thesis contradicting a teaching which the Pope, in his "Acta," has set forth as a part of Catholic doctrine.  It is, in other words, wrong to attack a teaching which, in a genuine doctrinal decision, the Sovereign Pontiff has taught officially as the visible head of the universal Church.  This holds true always an everywhere, even in those cases in which the Pope, in making his decision, did not exercise the plenitude of his apostolic teaching power by making an infallible doctrinal definition."

      Consequently, if one still feels compelled to resist an official papal teaching in accordance with one's personal Sensus Catholicus, then the only intellectually honest approach would be to consider that such a pope, who one believes officially errs in a matter of faith or morals, must be a false pope.  For a brilliant and clear explanation and discussion of this approach, see this article.

      St. Padre Pio:  "Do not cease in seeking the truth or in acquiring the greatest good.  Be docile to the impulse of grace, following its inspirations.  Do not be ashamed of Christ or his doctrine. "

Submitted 02/10/2015 by Frank Rega, www.frankrega.com



  1. You said: "According to Pope Pius XII, no Catholic can resist or oppose the teaching of a Pope once it becomes official (is entered in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis)."

    I wonder why we are discussing things that have already been determined by the Popes, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    If Pope Francis officially approves, as a result of the upcoming Synod on the Family, that the divorced and remarried, or those living in irregular unions, can receive Communion, then I´m sorry but he is approving a teaching that is against
    to what has already been determined by the previous Pope and became official.


    The reception of the holy communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful (1994) – Annus Internationalis Familiae
    (Epistola ad Catholicae Ecclesiae Episcopos de receptione communionis eucharisticae a fidelibus qui post divortium novas inierunt nuptias), September 14, 1994. AAS 86 (1994) 974-979

    "Concerning some objections to the Church's teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful" (Card. Joseph Ratzinger)

    If this sad thing happens in the Church, probably you´ll have another schism.

    But it won´t be the fault of Burke, but of all the hierarchy that approve a teaching contrary to the faith.. I call this: the mystery of iniquitaty.

  2. I think one correction needs to be made to your logical path your propose. The Holy Father can settle matters of "up to that time under dispute" as quoted by you above. This is not a matte of dispute as the other comment states. This would be a reversal of doctrine given by God and affirmed by the Church and His Vicar for 2k years. Your error is that you presume this is "under dispute" because of modern disputes against the original teaching.

    I would also question you use obedience to anything the Pope teaches. His teachings are different than a Dogmatic Declaration. He makes a formal Declaration for the exact reason Pope Pius XII wrote. An easy example is the Immaculate Conception (good day for this one as it is the Feast of Our Lady's apparition). The Dogma was pronounced because it needed to be to clear up confusion and disputes in a theological sense that hadn't been addressed up to that point.

  3. If the pope approves communion for the divorced, this will be a change in practice and not teaching. Perhaps in the same way Moses allowed divorce. Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of their hearts. However, what the pope binds on earth is bound in heaven. There is a difference between dogma and practice. The pope, for right or for wrong, would only be changing practice. Those that commit active adultery would be able to receive communion without sin!

    1. I am glad Anonymous posted the above comment that the issue under discussion about Communion is a matter of practice. However, the practice of not giving Communion to unrepentant adulterers has been in place, and while it may not be a matter of the Faith, it is a matter of Morals. Official Church teaching concerns doctrine on both Faith and Morals - see quote following from the Fenton article. If this new practice is officially approved by the Pope, it contradicts previous teaching regarding Church Morals.
      "The Humani generis must not be taken to imply that a Catholic theologian has completed his obligation with respect to an authoritative doctrinal decision made by the Holy Father and presented in his published "Acta" when he has merely refrained from arguing or debating against it. The Humani generis reminded its readers that "this sacred magisterium ought to be the immediate and universal norm of truth for any theologian in matters of faith and morals."[9] Furthermore, it insisted that the faithful are obligated to shun errors which more or less approach heresy, and "to follow the constitutions and decrees by which evil opinions of this sort have been proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See."[10] In other words, the Humani generis claimed the same internal assent for declarations of the magisterium on matters of faith and morals which previous documents of the Holy See had stressed. " (Fenton article linked in the original post.)

  4. I have a degree in Theology and Psychology and usually do not find myself struggling with teachings that come from the Papacy. The exception is Pope Francis. Is it because English is not his first language? Or is it how he thinks? I find myself confused by what he says and worried that the secular press think he walks on water. I find myself wishing he would stop making pronouncements and focus on Catholic teachings. Am I the only one who is struggling with confusion?

    1. Yes, this pope is confusing.
      When he said "who am I to judge?" about the gay people, this was the worst thing a pope could utter.
      He had nothing such but to quote St Paul's Corinthians 6:9
      "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God". Dot.
      He could have added: "But everyone is free to act according to his mind: Everyone is warned" Dot.
      This pope is unable to say things straight.

  5. No--me, too! I often feel on a seesaw. But I also see a loving man, making connections with people--souls! Where will it come out? I'm in a wait-and-see mode, trying, as Padre Pio so often exhorted, to be obedient to the Holy Father/Church -- God will straighten it all out...eventually.

  6. This whole matter regards the morality of reception of Communion. It is not just a matter of practice but a matter of doctrine going back to St. Paul in chapter 11 of first Corinthians. "[26] For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. [27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. "
    Church dogma concerns Faith or Morals. This is a doctrine of Chuch Morals going back to the apostles. Therefore no legitimate pope can change this teaching.

  7. [This is a comment from Anonymous that was accidentally deleted]
    When one receives any of the sacraments, one is receiving Jesus. One can receive baptism, confession and the anointing of the sick with mortal sin. The Church has a history of not allowing those in mortal sin to receive communion. To do so historically is a sacrilege. The pope, however, has the power to change Church practice and the rules governing the reception of the sacraments. This is different than changing Church teaching on intrinsically evil action such as abortion. For example, the pope can allow the Orthodox to receive communion in the Catholic Church if he wants. If one eats meat on any Friday during Lent, according to Church practice, that person has committed mortal sin. The pope, however, can certainly change this practice too. Some morals are intrinsic (as with abortion) and some morals are based on practice and these can change.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for the divorce to be able to receive communion. I believe it would be a horrible idea. But if the pope did allow this, and one did see it has a radical change in Church teaching or intrinsic morals, would not one logically conclude that this papal action completely dismantles the credibility of the Church? The Church claims that the pope can not err with regards to faith and morals. If the pope obviously errs, shouldn't one then conclude that the entire Catholic Church is a fraud??

    1. No, one cannot conclude that the entire Catholic Church is a fraud since Jesus said it would last until the end of time, the gates of hell not being able to prevail against it. But one can conclude that the Vatican II Church is a fraud. This is really a battle between Roman Catholics vs. Vatican II Catholics.

    2. If the pope did change Church teaching, and I truly saw this as a deviation of teaching and not simply practice, I would have to conclude that the Catholic Church is no different than the Orthodox. The Orthodox have no central authority. And according to your last reply, you as a "Roman Catholic" and not a "Vatican II Catholic" have no central authority either. Without central authority, one naturally and logically deviates towards theological relativism.