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The Pope is Tied Up and Limited by the Divine Law

One more false thesis:

"Since the Holy Ghost guides and inspires the Pope always, a) everyone must blindly follow every doctrine defined by him; b) no one can judge the Pope, even when a doctrine, defined by him, is inconsistent with Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition".

Response:

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not bestow upon St. Peter the power to make laws on Earth which are then automatically considered to be approved in Heaven.

According to the Official Church commentary on St. Matthew 16:19, Our Lord granted to Peter the power of binding and loosing of the temporal punishments due to sin.

“And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shalt be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (St. Matthew 16:19)

Ver. 19. Loose on earth. The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins is called an indulgence; the power of which is here granted.
(1)

The first part of the aforementioned thesis also contradicts the Vatican Council’s definition:

“The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the Apostles.”

As for the second part of the thesis, Canon 1556 literally says: "Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur" - “The First See is subject to no one's judgment”.

It is this canon that is wrongly interpreted by the followers of the Vatican II ‘church’, by pseudo-catholic sects governed by their own ‘popes’, and even by many ignorant Catholics.

The Church says that even a General Council has no power to judge the Pope. However, it should be clarified, what is meant by a General Council. Would that be a congregation of Catholic bishops gathered together with the Pope, or rather the canons and decrees promulgated by a General Council and ratified by the Pope?

A General Council as a congregation of bishops (human beings), though gathered together with the Pope, cannot judge the Pope.

Nevertheless the Pope is subject to the canons and decrees issued by a General Council, provided the Council had been convoked and ratified by the Pope.

For example, the canon of the Vatican Council says:

“If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST a primacy of honour only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema.”

This canon does not say that the Pope would not incur anathema if he were to publicly state that he does not believe, or he is not obliged to believe in this canon.

Since the word “anyone” (Latin – quis) is of general meaning, one can reasonably presume that the Pope is not exempt from this law. Therefore, he is subject to this canon at the very least for the sake of order and good example, but most of all, because this canon rests on the Divine Law of the New Testament.

One more example can be found in the Canon 188.4:

“Ob tacitam renuntiationem ab ipso iure admissam quaelibet officia vacant ipso facto et sine ulla declaratione, si clericus: ...4 A fide catholica publice defecerit.”

“Through tacit resignation, accepted by the law itself, all offices become vacant ipso facto and without any declaration if a cleric: ...n.4. Has publicly forsaken the Catholic Faith.”

Canon 188 refers only to clerics because only they can hold offices in the Church. Therefore, the Pope is not exempt from this canon, because he is a Cleric as well.

According to “A DOGMATIC CATECHISM FROM THE ITALIAN OF FRASSINETTI”, the Pope is subject to the decrees of former General Councils, lawfully celebrated and confirmed by the authority of the Popes, his predecessors, because that which was infallibly true once, will be true to all eternity.

Though it is said that the Pope is subject to the decrees of former General Councils, it would be reasonable to suppose that Pope Pius IX was not exempted from being subject to the decrees of the Vatican Council, convoked, presided and ratified by him.

It would also be logical to think in a like manner about all the Popes, his predecessors, who convoked, presided and confirmed all previous General Councils and their decrees.

The Right Reverend John S. Vaughan, Bishop of Sebastopolis says his book “THE PURPOSE OF THE PAPACY”:

“The Pope is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law and by the constitution of the Church.”

Bishop Vaughan also states:

“The Pope has no power over the Moral Law, except to assert it, to interpret it and to enforce it.”

It should be noted, however that the sovereign is exempted from the law, as to its coercive power. As to the directive force of law, the sovereign is subject to it by his own will.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that the sovereign should fulfill the directive law by his own free will and not by constraint.

Also St. Thomas does not say that the sovereign has the power of choosing between should or should not. He emphasizes that the sovereign should fulfill the directive law.

The mention of the Pope as the Sovereign Pontiff can be found in "A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW" of 1918, by the Rev. Chas. Augustine, VOLUME II, Clergy and Hierarchy, p. 215, and also in “THE VISIBLE CHURCH” A TEXT-BOOK FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS of 1921, by Rt. Rev. John F. Sullivan, D.D., p. 3.

From the subsequent quotes from canonically approved Catholic books it follows then that the thesis, mentioned at the beginning of this foreword, is totally false.

Fr. Valerii

Here the quotations from the books follow:

A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW
By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D.: EXEMPTION OF THE POPE CAN. 1556 Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur. The first or primatial see is subject to no one's judgment. This proposition must be taken in the fullest extent, not only with regard to the object of infallibility. For in matters of faith and morals it was always customary to receive the final sentence from the Apostolic See, whose judgment no one dared to dispute, as the tradition of the Fathers demonstrates. (Zozimus, "Quamvis Patrum traditio," March 21, 418 (Migne, P. L., 20, 676).) Neither was it ever allowed to reconsider questions or controversies once settled by the Holy See. (Boniface I, "Retro maioribus tuis," March 11, 422 (ibid., col. 776).) But even the person of the Supreme Pontiff was ever considered as unamenable to human judgment, he being responsible and answerable to God alone, even though accused of personal misdeeds and crimes. A remarkable instance is that of Pope Symmachus (498-514). He, indeed, submitted to the convocation of a council (the Synodus Palmaris, 502), because he deemed it his duty to see to it that no stain was inflicted upon his character, but that synod itself is a splendid vindication of our canon. The synod adopted the Apology of Ennodius of Pavia, in which occurs the noteworthy sentence: "God wished the causes of other men to be decided by men; but He has reserved to His own tribunal, without question, the ruler of this see." (See c. 14, C. 11, q. 3; c. 10, Dist. 96; cc. 10, 13, C. 9, q. 3; Reuben Parsons, Studies in Church History, ed. 2, 1901, Vol. I, p. 351 ff.) No further argument for the traditional view is required. A general council could not judge the Pope, because, unless convoked or ratified by him, it could not render a valid sentence. Hence nothing is left but an appeal to God, who will take care of His Church and its head. (1.1)

THE "SUMMA THEOLOGICA"
OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:

Q. 96.
FIFTH ARTICLE
WHETHER ALL ARE SUBJECT TO THE LAW?

Obj. 3. Further, the Jurist says (Pandect. Justin, i.) that the sovereign is exempt from the laws. But he that is exempt from the law is not bound thereby. Therefore not all are subject to the law.

Reply Obj. 3. The sovereign is said to be exempt from the law, as to its coercive power; since, properly speaking, no man is coerced by himself, and law has no coercive power save from the authority of the sovereign. Thus then is the sovereign said to be exempt from the law, because none is competent to pass sentence on him, if he acts against the law. Wherefore on Ps. L. 6: To Thee only have I sinned, a gloss says that there is no man who can judge the deeds of a king.
- But as to the directive force of law, the sovereign is subject to the law by his own will, according to the statement (Extra, De Constit. cap. cum omnes) that whatever law a man makes for another, he should keep himself. And a wise authority says: 'Obey the law that thou makest thyself.' Moreover the Lord reproaches those who say and do not; and who bind heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but with a finger of their own they will not move them (Matth. xxiii. 3, 4). Hence, in the judgment of God, the sovereign is not exempt from the law, as to its directive force; but he should fulfill it of his own free-will and not of constraint.
- Again the sovereign is above the law, in so far as, when it is expedient, he can change the law, and dispense in it according to time and place. (2)

THE VISIBLE CHURCH
BY Rt. Rev. JOHN F. SULLIVAN, D.D.:

The Pope takes that name from the Latin papa, a childlike word for father. He is often called the Sovereign Pontiff (from the Latin pontifex, bridge-builder, because in pagan times the Roman pontiffs or high-priests had charge of the bridges over the Tiber.) (2.1)

A HANDBOOK OF MORAL THEOLOGY
BY THE REVEREND ANTONY KOCH, D.D.:

A sovereign is subject to his own laws, not coactive, i. e., as regards their coercive force, for no one properly is coerced by himself; but directive, i. e., as regards their directive force, for the sake of order and good example. In the words of St. Thomas, "He ought voluntarily and not of constraint to fulfill the law," though strictly speaking he is above it, "inasmuch as, if expedient, he can change the law and dispense from it according to place and season." (Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol, 1a 2ae, qu. 96, art. s. ad 3 (Rickaby, Aquinas Ethicus, Vol. I, p. 294).) (3)

THE DECREES OF THE VATICAN COUNCIL:

And the Roman Pontiffs, according to the exigencies of times and circumstances, sometimes assembling Ecumenical Councils, or asking for the mind of the Church scattered throughout the world, sometimes by particular synods, sometimes using other helps which divine Providence supplied, defined as to be held those things which with the help of God they had recognized as conformable with the sacred Scriptures and apostolic traditions. For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the Apostles. (4)

A DOGMATIC CATECHISM.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF FRASSINETTI:


SECT. V. The Roman Pontiff.

Is the authority of the Roman Pontiff inferior to the authority of a General Council?

A. The Roman Pontiff, by his authority, gives force to a General Council, and therefore he is superior, and not inferior to it. The Supreme Pontiff does not cease to be Head of the Church when the Church is assembled in Council. Remember that no General Council has ever been recognized as infallible by the Church, without the confirmation and approbation of the Pope. Remember, moreover, that it is impossible to conceive the idea of a General Council without the Pope. The Pope must convoke it, must preside over it, either in person or by his legates, and finally, as we have said, must confirm it. To conceive a General Council without the Pope, we must conceive a General Council in opposition to the Pope; and in that case it would be an unlawful material assembly of Bishops, all really disunited, because without a centre of unity.

This would be the case in regard to a Pope living at the time a General Council was assembled; but would the Pope be subject to the decrees of former General Councils, lawfully celebrated, and confirmed by the authority of the Popes, his predecessors?

A. Undoubtedly, in dogmatic decisions, because that which was true, and infallibly true once, will be true to all eternity: moreover, to say that the Pope must in this way be subject to Councils, is the same as to say that the Pope must be catholic; which no one doubts. In decisions, however, which regard discipline, which in the Church is changeable, the Pope is superior to Councils, and may derogate from their laws when he sees necessity for so doing; and this authority is necessary to him, for otherwise the well-being of the Church would be ill-provided for. (pp. 36, 37, 38) (5)

THE PURPOSE OF THE PAPACY
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND JOHN S. VAUGHAN, D.D. Bishop of Sebastopolis:

To guard against any mistake as to the meaning of our words, let us explain that infallibility is a gift, but not a gift that the Pope exercises every day, nor on every occasion, nor in addressing individuals, nor public audiences, nor is it a prerogative that can be invoked, except under special and indeed we may certainly add, very exceptional circumstances. And further - unlike other powers - it can never be delegated to another. The Pope himself is Infallible, but he cannot transfer nor communicate his Infallibility, even temporarily or for some special given occasion, to anyone else who may, in other respects, represent him, such as a Legate, Ambassador, or Nuncio.

"Neither in conversation," writes the theologian Billuart, "nor in discussion, nor in interpreting Scripture or the Fathers, nor in consulting, nor in giving his reasons for the point which he has defined, nor in answering letters, nor in private deliberations, supposing he is setting forth his own opinion, is the Pope infallible." He is not infallible as a theologian, or as a priest, or a Bishop, or a temporal ruler, or a judge, or a legislator, or in his political views, or even in the government of the Church: but only when he teaches the Faithful throughout the world, ex cathedra, in matters of faith or of morals, that is to say, in matters relating to revealed truth, or to principles of moral conduct.

"It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that, alongside religious society, there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, there is the power of temporal magistrates, invested, in their own domain, with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society." (From a Pastoral of the Swiss Bishops, which received the Pope's approbation)

Further, a definition of divine faith must be drawn from the Apostolic deposit of doctrine, in order that it may be considered an exercise of infallibility, whether in Pope or Council. Similarly, a precept of morals, if it is to be accepted as from an infallible voice, must be drawn from the moral law, that primary revelation to us from God. The Pope has no power over the Moral Law, except to assert it, to interpret it and to enforce it. (6)

References:

(1) The quotations from the Holy Scripture taken from: THE HOLY BIBLE PUBLISHED WITH THE APPROBATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF IRELAND. The Douay Version of the Old Testament of 1609, and with the Rhemish Version of the New Testament of 1582, Given at Dublin, May 4th, 1857.

(1.1) A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW
By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D.
Professor of Canon Law
VOLUME VII
Ecclesiastical Procedure (Book IV)
(Can. 1552-2194)
W. E. BLAKE & SON, LIMITED
CATHOLIC CHURCH SUPPLIES
123 CHURCH ST. TORONTO, CANADA
1921
CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM
NIHIL OBSTAT:
Sti. Ludovici, die 8 Mart.. 1921
F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum
IMPRIMATUR:
Sti. Ludovici, die 9 Mart, 1921
+Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici
Copyright 1921, by Joseph Gummersbach
pp. 11-12

(2) THE "SUMMA THEOLOGICA"
OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
PART II
(FIRST PART)
LITERALLY TRANSLATED BY
FATHERS OF THE ENGLISH DOMINICAN PROVINCE
THIRD NUMBER
(QQ. XC.— CXIV.)
THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW
Q. 96, Fifth Article,
Whether all are subject to the law? pp. 71, 72, 73
R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD.
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW
BENZIGER BROTHERS: NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO
1915
Nihil Obstat: Fr. INNOCENTIUS APAP., O.P., S.T.M.. Censor Theol.
Imprimatur: EDM. CANONICUS SURMONT, Vcarius Generalis.
Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS.
Nihil Obstat:
F. H. RAPHAEL MOSS, O.P., S.T.L..
F. V. J. McNABB. O.P., S.T.B.
Imprimatur.
F. HUMBERTUS EVEREST. O.P., S.T.B., Prior Provincialis
LONDINI,
Die 7 Martii, 1915.

(2.1) THE VISIBLE CHURCH
BY Rt. Rev. JOHN F. SULLIVAN, D.D.
A TEXT-BOOK FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
Fifth Edition, Revised
NEW YORK
P. J. KENEDY & SONS
PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
NIHIL OBSTAT: ARTHURUS J. SCANLAN, S.T.D. Censor Librorum
IMPRIMATUR: PATRITIUS J. HAYES, D.D. Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis
Neo-Eboraci die 5, Aprilis 1921.
Copyright, 1920, 1922,
BY P. J. Kenedy & Sons, New York
Printed in U. S. A.
p.3

(3) A HANDBOOK OF MORAL THEOLOGY
BY THE REVEREND ANTONY KOCH, D.D.
Professor of Theology
Adapted and Edited by ARTHUR PREUSS
VOLUME I
INTRODUCTION, Definition, Scope, Object, Sources, Methods, History,
and Literature of Moral Theology
MORALITY, ITS SUBJECT, NORM, AND OBJECT
B. HERDER BOOK CO. 17 South Broadway, St. Louis, Mo.
And 68, Great Russell St., London, W. C.
1918
NIHIL OBSTAT
Sti Ludovici, die 17 Maji, 1918
F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum.
IMPRIMATUR
Sti. Ludovici, die 18 Maji, 1918
+Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici.
Copyright, 1918 by Joseph Gummersbach
SUBJECTS OF HUMAN LAW p.175

(4) THE DECREES OF THE VATICAN COUNCIL
Edited WITH AN INTRODUCTION
by the REV. VINCENT McNABB, O.P.
NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO
BENZIGER BROTHERS Printers to the Holy Apostolic See 1907
Imprimi potest FR LAURENTIUS SHAPCOTE, O.P., S.T.L. Prior Provincialis
Imprimi potest + GULIELMUS Episcopus Arindelensis Virarius Generalis
Westmonasteril die 19 Oct. 1906
First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ.
pp.45,46,47.

(5) A DOGMATIC CATECHISM.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF FRASSINETTI.

REVISED AND EDITED BY THE OBLATE FATHERS OF ST. CHARLES.
WITH A PREFACE BY HIS GRACE THE ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER.
LONDON: R. WASHBOURNE, 18A, PATERNOSTER ROW.
1872
pp. 36, 37, 38
The Catechism of Frassinetti is a good example of what a Catechist may do.
It is singularly well adapted to the needs of our middle class, for whom, as yet,
a sufficient provision has hardly been made. I therefore very heartily recommend
the use of this Catechism to the Clergy and Faithful.
+HENRY EDWARD,
Archbishop of Westminster.
Nativity of Our Lady,
1871.

(6) THE PURPOSE OF THE PAPACY
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND JOHN S. VAUGHAN, D.D.
Bishop of Sebastopolis.
LONDON
SANDS & CO,
15 KING STREET, COVENT GARDEN
EDINBURGH: 21 HANOVER STREET
ST. LOUIS, Mo., U.S.A.: B. HERDER
INTRODUCTION by +LOUIS CHARLES,
Bishop of Salford.
1910
pp. 78-80

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