Suspended magisterium?

Recently the camp of the Novus Ordo conservatives, or neocons, as they are commonly called, seems to have descended into a panic.

Up to now they have bent over backwards to maintain the principle that Vatican II did not change anything substantial in the Catholic Faith. While they may prefer pre-Vatican II rites and ceremonies, they refuse to call what has come out of Vatican II a new and false religion, as we call it.

Consequently we have seen over the years mostly an ostrich approach to anything that seems to contradict this thesis of theirs.

Continuity of Catholic doctrine, Catholic liturgy, and Catholic disciplines is essential and critical to the Church’s very nature as an organization founded by Christ and assisted by Christ until the end of time. Therefore finding continuity since Vatican II has been the source of a lot of angst among traditionalists of all kinds.

We say that continuity is saved by the categorical rejection of Vatican II and its reforms as the work of Modernist reformers, who have attempted to impose on the Church changes which are lethal to it.

Bergoglio has dismantled little by little, through his outrageous heresies, this neocon model. They are now turning to other “solutions.”

The latest is something that appeared recently in the Internet by Christopher Ferrara, a well known figure in neocon circles. He has proposed the idea of “suspended magisterium” during these times. He states: “The answer lies in what Cardinal Newman described as ‘the suspense of the functions of the Magisterium’ during the Arian crisis, when it seemed almost the entire Church had embraced the Arian heresy.”

Mr. Ferrara imagines that the pope and the entire episcopate stopped teaching Catholic doctrine during the Arian crisis, citing Cardinal Newman who said that the pope and the bishops “said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth.”

According to Cardinal Newman, this went on for sixty years.

It first should be pointed out that Cardinal Newman was a convert from Anglicanism, and that throughout his life was friendly with the Modernists, particularly with the arch-Modernist radical, Baron von Hügel. [1]

Secondly, it is simply not true, historically, that the pope and the entire hierarchy stopped teaching Catholic doctrine. The popes never taught heresy or anything close to it. The bishops who taught heresy were Ari-an bishops, who were intruders appointed not by popes but by emperors. Catholic bishops were deprived of their sees and sent into exile. It is furthermore true that the problem was not universal. The West was not nearly as much affected by the heresy as the East. There are, as well, some fine examples of popes during that fourth-century period who unwaveringly taught Catholic doctrine.

Some bring up the case of Pope Liberius who allegedly signed an ambiguous formula of a council. It is not even certain that he did sign it, but what is certain is that he did not teach it as Catholic doctrine. Consequently the worst that could be said of Liberius is that he fell personally into heresy, but it cannot be asserted that he taught it to the Church. This is a critical point.

Even this fall, however, is doubtful, for upon his return to Rome from exile, he was hailed as a great hero of the Faith. This was the same Rome which refused the emperor’s appointee to replace Liberius, whose name was Felix. The Roman Catholics refused him, not because he was an Arian, but because he was in communion with the Arians. Consequently, they never would have hailed Liberius if he had truly fallen.

All the bishops of the Eighth General Council (Constantinople IV), held in 869 and 870, which condemned the schism of Photius, declared: “For we must not forget the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Thou art Peter, etc.’ This saying has been proved by events, because in the Apostolic Chair the Catholic religion has been preserved immaculate, and holy doctrine ever held.” How could they have said such a thing if there had ever been deviation from Catholic doctrine in the Apostolic See?

Furthermore, Pope Pius VI in 1794 condemned as heretical the following proposition: “In these latter times there has been spread a general obscuring of the more important truths pertaining to religion, which are the basis of faith and of the moral teachings of Jesus Christ.”

How does one reconcile a “suspension of the magisterium” with this condemnation?

Finally, Cardinal Newman, later in life, himself backed off of the precise interpretation that Mr. Ferrara has given to his words, written in 1859.

The reason why Mr. Ferrara is claiming a “sus-pension of the magisterium” is that Bergoglio’s “magisterium” is obviously not Catholic. The solution? Just ignore it, because we are in a time of sus-pension.

One critic of Mr. Ferrara’s position asked this question: “When will we know that the magisterium is functioning again? Will we receive an email?” The point is well taken. Who is Mr. Ferrara, or any other Catholic for that matter, to decide that the magisterium has been suspended? The neocons attack the sedevacantists for usurping authority in saying that the Roman See is vacant because of heresy. But the sedevacantists can cite a chorus of theologians to support what they say, whereas no one, except Cardinal Newman, has ever said that there has been a stop-page of the teaching Church, and even he retracted that very idea later in life. [2] We have already seen that Pope Pius VI condemned this idea as heretical.

[1] Newman asserted, for example, “freedom from symbols [creeds] and articles [of faith] is abstractedly the highest state of Christian communion”, but was “the peculiar privilege of the primitive Church.” Such a statement is thoroughly modernist, and echoes the thoughts of the arch-Modernist excommunicate Alfred Loisy.

[2] All Catholic theologians (with one exception, which is even doubtful) agree that a heretical pope cannot be a true pope. It is true that they disagree about how he falls from office, but they all agree that papacy and heresy are two radically incompatible things. This concerns fall from office due to personal heresy. These same theologians are silent about a pope’s teaching of heresy, since they regard this as an impossible case.