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Sensus Fidelium in Baltimore

The recent “Bishops: Enough Is Enough!” rally in Baltimore showed how the laity in America has had it with the ambiguities and guilty silence of the hierarchy, not to mention the outright dissent from Catholic teaching on grave moral matters.

Fr. James Martin

To say the least, their ambiguities are dividing the Catholic Church. From allowing Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion and to people who live in adultery, to ignoring the very bad example given by the likes of Fr. James Martin in his defense of sodomy, and a great many other things that have scandalized the people of God — all have raised many eyebrows about the competence of many bishops to guide the Church as successors of the Apostles.

Since many bishops and cardinals are covering up for homosexual clergy, whom can we trust? Or, more specifically, how can we laypeople resist the bishops who have scandalized a great many Catholics?

The laity in America has had it with the ambiguities and guilty silence of the hierarchy.

It is no small matter. But thanks be to God, the answer is already clear in the teachings of the Catholic theologians.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught:

“If 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 [the first pope and bishop of Rome], questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of faith. And, as the Glosa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2,14), ‘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.'”
“The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was not light: 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.”
“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.”

Yes, as shown in chapter two of Galatians, St. Paul rebuked St. Peter in public, just as the people in the “Bishops: Enough Is Enough!” rally rebuked the U.S. bishops, also in public.

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Catholic Info Hour: Recap of the “Bishops: Enough Is Enough” rally

Other theologians and saints have gone further on resisting a pope.

Father Francisco de Vitoria, O.P., wrote:

A pope must be resisted who publicly destroys the Church. … 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? … He would certainly sin; he should neither be permitted to act in such manner nor should he be obeyed in what was evil; but he should be resisted with a courteous reprehension. Consequently … if he 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.

Father Cornelius a Lapide, S.J., argues: “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 (Galatians 2:11).”

Saint Augustine wrote: “By that, superiors should not refuse to be corrected by inferiors; St. Peter gave posterity an example more rare and holier than that of St. Paul as he taught that, in the defense of truth and with charity, inferiors may have the audacity to resist superiors without fear.”

Saint Robert Bellarmine, a great champion of the Counter-Reformation, maintains:

“Just as it is licit to resist a pontiff that attacks the body, it is also licit 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 licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed. It is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are actions proper to a superior.” 

Applying these teachings to our days, the conclusion is very grave and also very simple: Catholics who truly love the Church have the duty to resist whatever false doctrines or immoral commands come from any ecclesiastical authority, priests, bishops or even pope, whose ambiguities have caused scandal among the faithful all over the world.

It is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose said authority. One can resist and also ask him to resign. Such resistance should be courteous and charitable. It does not mean the Catholic who takes this stand has the power to judge the pope.

Catholics who truly love the Church have the duty to resist whatever false doctrines or immoral commands come from any ecclesiastical authority, priests, bishops or even pope.

But, when the cardinals sent their dubia to Pope Francis, why hasn’t he responded? What is the use of being a master and teacher of the nations if one does not guide and teach the nations? 

One often reads expressions of disappointment, frustration and even anger regarding Pope Francis’ lack of initiative to cleanse the Temple of God of the homosexual culture that infects it these days.

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News Report: Gays Run the Place

Even if we had no orthodox theologian to express our right to resist, canon law (212 §3) specifies the Catholic faithful “have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.”

Faithful Catholics, therefore, who expressed what’s called the sensus fidelium in Baltimore by speaking their frustrations with the ecclesiastical authority were perfectly within their right to do so.

— Campaign 32075 —


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