Sunday 24th March 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Authority Of Bishops… Can A Catholic Resist A Wrong Teaching Of His Bishop?

December 2, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 2

In this article, I specifically address Catholic priests who have the duty to work for the salvation of their parishioners.
Suppose that your bishop gives permission to give Communion to people living in adultery, in the context of the ambiguities brought about by Amoris Laetitia. You know that this is forbidden by nearly 2,000 years of consistent Church teaching, from chapter 11 of St. Paul to the Corinthians II, to Familiaris Consortio of John Paul II and Sacramentum Caritatis of Benedict XVI, and even canon 195 of the Code of Canon Law.
Therefore, your well-informed conscience tells you not to give Communion to people living in adultery. Question: Are you obliged to go against that same well-informed conscience in order to obey your bishop? Or do you have the right to resist your bishop’s instruction? In plain English, can you question or even oppose your bishop to follow God’s law?
Let us see what the great Catholic theologians have to say about it. I will quote from five of the best, two Dominicans and three Jesuits.
The first one is the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. He teaches:
“There being an imminent danger for the Faith, Bishops must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as St. Augustine teaches, ‘St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern, so that if sometime they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy, even if it comes from their subjects’” — Summa Theologiae (Turin/Rome: Marietti), 1948, II. II, q. 33, a. 4.
Yes, St. Thomas affirms that the faithful have the right and the duty to resist teachings that contradict the previous Magisterium.
Still on the same instance when St. Paul resisted St. Peter “to his face,” St. Thomas teaches:
“The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was not trivial: there was a danger for the preservation of evangelical truth….The way it took place was appropriate, since it was public and open. For this reason, St. Paul writes: ‘I spoke to Cephas,’ that is, Peter, ‘before everyone,’ since the simulation practiced by St. Peter was fraught with danger to everyone” — Super Epistulas S. Pauli, Ad Galatas, 2, 11-14, (Taurini/Rome: Marietti, 1953), lec. III, nn. 83-84.
The Angelic Doctor also shows how this passage of the Scriptures contains teachings not only for bishops, but for the faithful as well:
“To the Bishops an example of humility was given so that they do not refuse to accept corrections from their inferiors and subjects; and to the subjects, an example of zeal and liberty, so they will not fear to correct their Bishops, above all when the crime is public and entails a danger for many” (Ibid., n. 77).
Elsewhere, St. Thomas teaches that it is a work of mercy to respectfully correct a bishop who sins: “Eccl. 17:12 says that God ‘imposed on each one duties toward his neighbor.’ Now, a Bishop is our neighbor. Therefore, we must correct him when he sins….
“Some say that fraternal correction does not extend to Bishops either because a man should not raise his voice against Heaven, or because Bishops are easily scandalized if corrected by their subjects.
“However, this is not the case here, since when the Bishops sin, they do not represent Heaven and, therefore, must be corrected. And those who correct them charitably, do not raise their voices against them, but in their favor, since the admonishment is for their own sake….For this reason…the precept of fraternal correction extends also to Bishops, so that they may be corrected by their subjects” — IV Sententiarum, d. 19, q. 2, a. 2.
OK, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that we may and sometimes must resist a wrong decision or teaching of the local Bishop(s). The great St. Thomas More did just that, and today he is known as one of the greatest English Saints, who died for his fidelity to God’s Law against adultery. He also followed the example of the holiest of men, St. John the Baptist.
But the Pope is also a bishop, isn’t he? The Bishop of the Diocese of Rome. Can a faithful Catholic also resist a wrong decision by the Pope? Take, for example, the case, in the eighth century, on account of the ambiguous attitudes of Pope Honorius I in the face of the heresy of monothelitism; in the twelfth century, when Paschal II weakened in relation to the question of investiture; in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries due to the scandals of Alexander VI. Could a faithful Catholic oppose those Popes who did wrong?
The answer is a simple yes. Another great theologian, the Dominican Fr. Francisco de Vitoria, OP, asks these questions: “What should be done when the Pope, because of his bad customs, destroys the Church? What should be done if the Pope wanted without reason to abrogate Positive Law?”
His answer is: “He would certainly sin; he should neither be permitted to act in such fashion nor be obeyed in what was evil; but he should be resisted with a courteous reprehension. Consequently…if the Pope wanted to destroy the Church or the like, he should not be permitted to act in that fashion, but one would be obliged to resist him.
“The reason for this is that he [the Pope] does not have the power to destroy. Therefore, if there is evidence that he is doing so, it is lawful to resist him. The result is, that if the Pope destroys the Church by his commands and actions, he can be resisted and the execution of his commands prevented” — Obras de Francisco de Vitoria (Madrid: BAC, 1960), pp. 486f.
Another great theologian, a Jesuit this time, Fr. Francisco Suarez, SJ, also defends this teaching: “If [the Pope] gives an order contrary to good customs, he should not be obeyed. If he attempts to do something manifestly opposed to justice and the common good, it would be lawful to resist him. If he attacks by force, he could be repelled by force, with the moderation appropriate to a just defense” — De Fide, disp. X, sec. VI, n. 16, in Opera omnia (Paris: Vivès, 1958), volume XII, in Xavier da Silveira, La nouvelle Messe de Paul VI: Qu’en penser? (Chiré-en-Montreuil: Diffusion de la Pensée Française, 1975), pp. 323f.
Another great Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, a doctor of the Church, the outstanding paladin of the Counter Reformation, teaches: “Just as it is lawful to resist a Pontiff that attacks the body, it is also lawful to resist one who attacks the soul or who disturbs civil order or, above all, one who attempts to destroy the Church.
“I say that it is lawful to resist him by not doing what he commands and preventing his will from being executed. It is not lawful, however, to judge, punish, or depose him, since these are actions proper to a superior” — De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, chapter 29, in Opera omnia (Naples/Panormi/Paris: Pedone Lauriel), 1871, volume I, p. 418.
A third great Jesuit, Fr. Cornelius a Lapide, SJ, not a canonized saint but a master scholar on Sacred Scripture, teaches that: “Superiors can, with humble charity, be admonished by their inferiors in the defense of truth; that is what St. Augustine, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory, St. Thomas, and others declare about this passage (Gal. 2:11)” — Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Ad Galatas 2:11 (Paris: Ludovicus Vivès, 1876), volume 18, p. 528.
Next article: Does resistance to a wrong decision of the Pope go against papal infallibility?

+ + +

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www. RaymonddeSouza.com.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello - https://t.co/ft6sr36bka

CRS: Catholic Charity? Or Secular Government Agency? - https://t.co/rg6BpAebKz

Load More...

Montreal-archbishop-responds-to-priests-stabbing

The Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, has released a statement regarding Friday morning’s attack on Fr. Claude Grou, a religious of Holy Cross and rector of St. Joseph Oratory. “Father Grou suffered some injuries, however, thank God, he is not in…Continue Reading

Rorate interviews Professor Roberto de Mattei regarding Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s analysis on the subject of a heretic Pope.

 – Professor de Mattei, would you care to give us your opinion on the study His Excellency Monsignor Schneider made on a “heretic Pope”? – I consider it an important document. Firstly, Monsignor Schneider is one of the most esteemed among…Continue Reading

Chinese president will likely snub the Holy See, Pope Francis while in Rome

VATICAN CITY, March 20, 2019, LifeSiteNews — Despite entering into a controversial, lopsided agreement with the Vatican last September in which China gained greater control over the Chinese Catholic Church, President Xi Jinping will evidently snub the Holy See while…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi: ‘I Myself, as a Catholic, Believe…’

(CNSNews.com) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said at her press briefing on Thursday that she wants to “salute” the Green New Deal and went on to explain that “as a Catholic” she believes—“as do many of our Evangelical friends”—that…Continue Reading

Pope Francis warns against gossip, forgetting one’s own sinfulness

Rome, Italy, Mar 3, 2019 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- In a visit to a Roman parish on Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to stop gossiping and ruminating on the shortcomings of other people, and to instead focus on repenting of…Continue Reading

Catholic network Salt + Light stands by CEO Fr. Rosica despite plagiarism

TORONTO, March 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation is standing by Father Thomas Rosica, the network’s CEO, despite revelations of his extensive plagiarism going back almost 30 years. Meanwhile, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says…Continue Reading

Measure to protect babies who survive abortion fails in Senate 53-44

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Senate in an evening vote Feb. 25 failed to pass a measure sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, to require that babies born alive after an abortion be given medical attention and “the same protection of…Continue Reading

Prosecutors drop second trial against Cardinal George Pell

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 25, 2019 / 06:21 pm (CNA).- Prosecutors have abandoned a planned second trial against Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted in December 2018 on five charges of the sexual abuse of minors. Pell is reported to…Continue Reading

Rosica resigns from college board after plagiarism apology; Jesuits withdraw award

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2019 / 02:47 pm (CNA).- A Canadian priest who apologized last week for plagiarism has resigned from the governing board of a Catholic college affiliated with the University of Toronto. “As a sign of contrition and…Continue Reading

Abuse Survivor: Pope’s Devil Comments ‘Outrageous’

Pope Francis’ latest slam on church critics as cohorts of Satan stunned survivors of priest sex abuse and their advocates, who called the pontiff’s remarks “outrageous” on the eve of his clergy summit on the long-running scandal. “It’s outrageous ……Continue Reading

Pope picks liberal cardinals Cupich, Marx, Tagle for featured talks at Vatican Abuse Summit

ROME, February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle of the Philippines will be featured speakers at the Vatican’s upcoming summit on clerical sex abuse titled, “The Protection of Minors…Continue Reading

SD BISHOP CALLS CATHOLIC GROUP ‘EVIL’ FOR OPPOSING CARDINAL CUPICH

RAPID CITY, S.D. (ChurchMilitant.com) – A bishop is calling a Catholic apostolate “evil” for being critical of Cdl. Blase Cupich. Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota issued a statement to be read from all parish pulpits the weekend of Feb. 9–10 condemning…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Video surfaces of Beto O’Rourke berating Catholic priest for defending male/female marriage

EL PASO, Texas, March 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A video of pro-abortioncongressman Beto O’Rourke, who is running for president, has surfaced showing him berating a Catholic priest for defending male/female marriage at an El Paso City Council meeting in 2011. The incident took place in June 2011 when El Paso priest Fr. Michael Rodriguez spoke against extending marriage benefits

South Dakota governor signs multiple pro-life laws including ultrasound requirement, end-of-life parental involvement

PIERRE, South Dakota, March 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a slate of bills into law Wednesday to impose various new restrictions on abortions and responsibilities on the physicians committing them, as well as a new safeguard for patients’ rights. Forum News Service reported that four of the bills will require abortionists to give women the chance to see a sonogram of their baby and listen to his or her…Continue Reading

On the question of a heretical pope

schneider

The issue of how to handle a heretical pope, in concrete terms, has not yet been treated in a manner which approaches anything like a true general consent in the entire Catholic tradition. So far, neither a pope nor an Ecumenical Council has made relevant doctrinal pronouncements nor have they issued binding canonical norms regarding the eventuality of how to handle a heretical pope during the term of his office. There is no historical case of…Continue Reading

GOP congressman sues Twitter for shadow-bans, discrimination against conservatives

March 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is taking Twitter to court for the social media giant’s alleged discrimination against himself and other prominent conservatives through shadow-banning and other means. Last summer, Nunes was one of several Republican lawmakers and GOP leaders whose Twitter accounts had disappeared from the drop-down menu that normally populates when typing in a name, without comparable figures such as Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez or any…Continue Reading

US bishops’ anti-poverty charity gave $60,000 to pro-gay Marxist group last year

March 15, 2019 (Lepanto Institute) — The 2017–2018 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grants list shows that the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) received $60,000, bringing the total this organization has received to $290,000 since 2005. In 2012, the Reform CCHD Now coalition alerted the US bishops to serious problems with NWBCCC including homosexual activism and the promotion of Marxism. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan of the A

Advertisement(2)

Who Spawned The Christchurch Killer?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Friday, March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the more civilized places on Earth, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, turned on his cellphone camera and set out to livestream his massacre of as many innocent Muslim worshipers as he could kill. Using a semi-automatic rifle, he murdered more than…Continue Reading

Among U.S. Military… Ban On Gender Transition To Take Effect In April

By CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — Troops enlisting and serving in the U.S. military will have to serve as their biological sex and are forbidden from transitioning to another gender, a new Department of Defense policy states. The policy was announced in a memo that was obtained by the Associated Press March 12. The…Continue Reading

Medical Ethics: “Who’s Next?”

By BARBARA SIMPSON (Editor’s Note: This column first appeared on WorldNetDaily, March 1, 2019.) + + + It’s really getting out of control. The headlines and news reports are filled with life and death. Not war. Not accidents. No, these news stories are about how and when our medical system can, and will, legally kill…Continue Reading

A Dark Night Finally Turns To Day

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column.) + + + They could have just kept going, but they didn’t. It was another cold South Dakota day on February 28, 1981, when Lee Litz went out with a friend to test-drive a…Continue Reading

My Reply… An Eastern Orthodox Writer’s Attempt To Justify Divorce And Remarriage

By JAMES LIKOUDIS An Eastern Orthodox correspondent has taken issue with Catholic teaching rejecting adultery as a legitimate ground for divorce and remarriage. His arguments stem from ill-digested readings drawn from both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sources. The writer, in effect, rejects Catholic doctrine regarding the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriage. That doctrine, based on…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent reply about giving Holy Communion to everyone at a funeral or wedding, J.C. of Ontario, Canada, sent along the following comments: “I appreciate the clear answers which were given to E.B. of New York. . . . I as a non-Catholic who is a Baptist am well aware that Protestants cannot participate with Catholics in…Continue Reading

Empty Chalice At Consecration Time… Could Signal A Grave Violation Of Canon Law

By Fr. Edward McNamara, LC (Editor’s Note: Following is a Q-and-A from Fr. Edward McNamara’s regular column published by ZENIT News Agency. The date of this column is March 12, 2019. (ZENIT holds the copyright to this article. All rights reserved.) + + + (Legionary of Christ Fr. Edward McNamara is a professor of liturgy and dean of theology at…Continue Reading

Heaven, The Promised Land

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Lent (YR C) Readings: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15 1 Cor. 10:1-6, 10-12 Luke 13:1-9 In the readings today we hear about both the justice and the mercy of God. The first reading is all about God’s mercy. The people of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, but in that time they…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Cardinal Pell: The Pendulum Swings

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The pendulum means nothing on its own and functions only by means of a power external to itself: the law of gravity. The swing of the pendulum is a symbol of the lack of balance, for the forces at work upon it which keep it in constant motion prevent its rest in a central position…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In his weekly bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler, after noting that John Henry Cardinal Newman of England will soon be proclaimed a saint and Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary will be declared venerable, said that “Mindszenty was not Newman’s intellectual peer, but his life was the most muscular testimony…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

By CAROLE BRESLIN Mary and Joseph led a chaste life, as husband and wife for the greater glory of God. The parents of Therese of Lisieux, Marie-Azélie Guérin and Louis Martin, also hoped to live this way, but their spiritual director advised them not to do so. In obedience, they provided the Church with a wonderful example of holiness. Another…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Cuthbert

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Melrose Abbey in Scotland, which is located about 30 miles south-southeast of Edinburgh, attracts more visitors than just about any other attraction in Scotland. Although mostly in ruins now, the abbey boasts a museum and other sites of interest, such as the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce. Mel Gibson revived interest in him with the…Continue Reading