The Thinking 

Jorge Bergoglio and the Vacant Throne

September 25, 2013



Pope Paul IV


IT is an enduring and unshakeable doctrine of the Catholic Church that anyone who rejects part of the faith, even one article of the faith, rejects the whole. Can a non-Catholic, someone who rejects the faith, legitimately be a pope? The answer seems obvious. Nevertheless, it is urgently, now more than ever, in need of articulation.

In 1559, Pope Paul IV proclaimed that a non-Catholic cannot be the Roman Pontiff. His words are a definitive statement on the issue in general. Paul IV wrote the following in his Apostolic Constitution “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio:

[I]f ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;

(ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;

(iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way;

(iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain;

(v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone;

(vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.

It is abundantly clear from the many statements Jorge Bergoglio, aka Pope Francis, has made in the six months of his pontificate that he is not a believing Catholic and has not been a believing Catholic for quite some time. His recent interview with La Civilta Cattolica was the most elaborate public clarification of his convictions. The interview was filled with heresies, blasphemies and outright distortions, all of which were so thick and settled they must have preceded his pontificate. To Bergoglio, the Catholic Church is a “disjointed  multitude of doctrines;” a fragile edifice capable of collapse; a religion that has the right to express itself not because it is true but because it is a religion, whatever that means; an institution that has uncharitably interfered in people’s lives; a petty Church unnecessarily obsessed with the greatest moral evils of our time; a bureaucracy of “small-minded rules” that has not made room for the “big heart” of non-believers and the will of the people. Ethics are situational. “We must always consider the person.” Morality changes with time. “In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them.” The divorced woman can go on with her second marriage.

In essence, there is no divine law. “We have to find a new balance.” And, the ancient prayer life of the Church is irreversibly over. Those who adhere to the Church’s ancient liturgy, said Bergoglio, — the insistently judgmental man who condemns judgment, the prideful priest who boasts of his humility, the self-admitted “sinner” who paves the way for the universal denial of sin, the fuzzy-wuzzy Protestant preacher of love who is nasty and malicious to those with whom he disagrees, who just happen to be devout Catholics — are “restorationists” and “legalists” whose “sensitivity” must somehow be borne.

Only if one has doubt is one genuinely Catholic, according to the Bergoglio Heresy, which is not original but is derived from the heresy of Vatican II. There is no theological certainty and theology is inferior to the infallible intuitions of the people. Even Aquinas is a problem. The Church is a dynamic, unfolding process. We have moved beyond the mind and abstract truths. After all, what is the point of theology if there is no truth? It is hardly any surprise that Bergoglio has trouble completing a thought given his difficulty with the very concept of truth.

Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then?

Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith to him: What is truth?

[John 18:37-38]

If only Bergoglio were as lucid as Pilate. In so many words, Bergoglio has asked the same rhetorical question. What is truth? Or as he put it, in his diffuse, modernist gobbledegook:

..[H]uman self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong…. Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning.

How much clearer can he be? He does not believe in Catholicism. We are without a pope.

We must therefore love our Divine Sovereign and his Mystical Body, the Church, even more. We must therefore discover regions within our hearts, minds and souls that have as yet failed to honor and adore his eternal reign and turn ourselves decisively and without hesitation over to him.

— Comments —

Virginia Catholic writes:

Whereas some Catholics will almost certainly disown you and use disparaging terms about you because of your statement I am not one of them.

I believe your conscience on the matter should be respected. Many of us are experiencing the same reaction as yourself. But, what can possibly be done? The combined inertia of Vatican II, the new movements and liturgical changes is too much to resist. Isn’t it better to be at peace with our co-coreligionists as much as possible and watch and pray for the floods of heresy to recede? The stigma of sedevacantism is emotional and unreasonable. I, at least, am living among Catholics to whom John Paul II is a hero and saint.

I don’t like Bergoglio any more than you; he is a danger to the Faith. I’m not to the point that I believe he is formally guilty of heresy, or an anti-pope, but I do believe at a minimum he is a poor leader and a menace. Nevertheless, I certainly don’t look down on anyone who is convinced he is a heretic. They have good cause. On this matter I’m open-minded. I just wonder if some who read your blog and know you personally will ostracize you over this matter.

 Laura writes:

Thank you for your comments.

Yes, I expect I will lose quite a few readers, as well as draw a few kooks and enemies of the Church. I stayed up until 4 a.m. last night, thinking and reading. By the early morning, I felt I that this conclusion was the only one I could draw from the many, many statements and actions of this man. I know now that Jorge Bergoglio is not a Catholic. I do not fully understand what that means nor do I think I have any authority to say this other than that belonging to anyone familiar with the Church’s basic teachings.

It is not at all something I relish saying, although it does for me clarify many things.

Last month, I attended the funeral of a friend at a Novus Ordo mass. When I went up to receive Communion, I stuck out my tongue. I dislike standing out in a crowd. But the idea of receiving Communion in the hand as is done in the Novus Ordo mass now makes me feel ill and intensely ashamed. Not only that, but I feel queasy, intensely ashamed and deeply offended to see others receive Communion in their hands, even though I never openly object of course because that’s impossible. Fortunately, I usually attend the Tridentine Mass so this is not a constant problem. Catholics traditionally received the Host on the tongue because of their reverence for the Body of Christ. If taken in the hand, some of the particles could end up on the floor, in the lap or who knows where, all of which would be great desecrations. Anyway, at this funeral, when I held out my tongue, the priest’s face instantly hardened. He was angry. He flicked the Host onto my tongue with a hard snap. You see? There is no compromise. The hope that there will be some gradual melding of these two belief systems is misguided. Those who worship the Blessed Sacrament at the level it was once worshipped and dignified absolutely must be ostracized. Bergoglio calls people who adhere to traditional ways “Pelagians.” In other words, they are heretics. There is no compromise. Only one or the other can be right.

Henry A. writes:

I have been reading your site for a while now but never commented before. I am an Argentine Catholic.

Your post “Jorge Bergoglio and the Vacant Throne” sums up what type of man has been elected Pope. Francis has the capacity to create a lot of confusion and scandal in the Church, as he did during his times in Buenos Aires. Some traditional-minded Catholics back home do think that he is a Mason with a draconian agenda to force Vatican II on the still healthy remains of the Church. It is dangerous to make such statements and I cannot confirm them. What is true though is that he has had very friendly relations with the Argentine Mason Lodges and that when he was elected Pope several Masonic lodges officially complimented him.

In any case, beyond any of these speculations and anecdotes, his works as Buenos Aires Cardinal and during his first months as Pope leave little room for doubt … or hope.

Drina writes:

I have wondered a long while where you stand exactly as a Catholic, and lately you’ve certainly become more vocal on the subject of the Church and the pope.  Now you come out right and say  that you are a sedevacantist.  I’m only left to wonder how long this has been your position.  I find this so troubling, especially because the reasons you stress are jumps from what the pope has actually stated.  Pope Francis’ excommunicating  a pro-gay, pro-women’s ordination priest, is a loud and clear statement that the issues of sexuality and ordination are important.  You say that your interpretations come from reading the interview clearly and being non-biased – I couldn’t disagree more.  At the very least, it is an uncharitable reading, and looks more like a very biased one.  To call someone socially wounded is a far cry from saying they are entitled to a new marriage after divorce, and to say one ought always to consider a person doesn’t imply that morality changes.  It only implies that we ought to consider how we deal with the person.  For example, Christ said to Mary Magdalen “Go forth and sin no more,” and he called the pharisees “hypocrites” and “white-washed tombs.”  Different people evoked different responses, while the moral teachings remained the same.

If you questioned Pope Francis regarding his use of the word doubt, you might learn that he is using the word doubt in the sense of “methodical doubt.”  This is no small quibble.   There are different kinds of doubt.  Doubting faith is wrong.  Using a methodical doubt to examine truths is not.

Referencing the quote you gave “..[H]uman self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong…. Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning.” – It seems to me that his very reference to the “timeless meaning” of the Gospel implies that there is an unchanging truth.  And different understanding doesn’t necessarily mean changed.  It can also mean “in addition to.”  This makes sense to me.

I feel sure you won’t agree with me, but these matters are so important and so many souls are at stake.  I think we agree on that much.  I can only hope and pray that you’ll consider these matters in a new light.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and God bless you.

Laura writes:

Thank you for your concern and your good will. I believe you have good will even though you say I have made hasty and unfounded judgments. I fully understand why you are disappointed and sincerely wish it was otherwise.

How could I not write more about the Church lately? We’re living through a non-stop siege. Truthfully, I’m not sure what all it means to be a “sedevacantist.” That sounds like a very scary and wacky thing. I don’t even think I can pronounce it correctly. Believe it or not, I actually prefer to be a normal person and not an outsider. I am not a canon lawyer or a theologian or formally part of any traditionalist Catholic movement. I only know at this moment that Bergoglio is not a Catholic and has not been a Catholic for some time. Remember, if one rejects part of the faith, one rejects the whole. I have had many sleepless nights in the last few months. I’ve tried my best to hold onto the idea that someone who espouses heretical views can still be the pope because he is part of the living flesh of the Church. In the same way a man who is adulterous is still the husband of the woman he married, the pope is still the pope no matter what error he may embrace. The problem is, Bergoglio was not a Catholic when he was elected. This seems to be analogous to that very small number of marriages that should be annulled. It’s comparable to the man who marries a woman when he is already married to someone else.

No, I did not hold this position before. I think it would be quite dishonest of me to hold such a controversial view and not inform my readers. As for  your comments about the text of the interview, comments which I strongly disagree with, I will respond shortly. Unfortunately, I have to tend to some other matters first.

Tom writes:

Welcome to the catacombs from one who arrived here, after many years, and much searching, at the same inescapable conclusion: that we are without a Pope, and have been for some time. When the priests turned their backs on the Tabernacle it was the first tip-off that something was definitely wrong. And, though in the minority, we are certainly not alone. I much appreciate your website. Best wishes.

The Rev. James Jackson, FSSP writes:

I hope you would take the time to read this article.

I think you are wrong about the Pope, and that the logical conclusion to your position is that the promises made by Christ concerning His Church are worthless.

Laura writes:

Thank you. I definitely will read the article.

James N. writes:

I hate to write to you about religion, since we are in perfect accord about so many things.

Also, since I was a Protestant for 50 years, and a semi-Protestant for 9 more, my grasp of things Catholic is still quite insecure.


The major objection to Mormonism is that Joseph Smith made the claim of “universal apostasy”, that is to say, with the death of the last apostle, that the church or churches on earth all taught false doctrine for approximately 1800 years. This meant, of course, that sixty generations or so of Christian believers were condemned to enter the gates of Hell, which Christ Himself promised would not prevail.

I eventually came to believe that the Protestant movement made more or less the same claim (except that the interpretations of the period of universal apostasy ranged from 400-1400 years, not 1800). Since the promises of Christ are all true and valid for all time, neither the Mormon nor the Protestant claim can be the truth.

Since I have had so much formation in and exposure to Protestant theology, it seems to me that the claim that there is no Pope, or that the cardinals (or bishops, as you will) were not acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit when they elected John XXIII, or Paul VI, or John Paul I or II, or Benedict XVI, or Francis (the claim that there is no Pope has various starting points), also falsifies Christ’s promise to Peter in Matthew 16. It is actually, coming as it does from more than a few extremely devout Catholics, surprising to see in it a fundamental Protestant premise – that one can substitute one’s discernment, or interpretation of events, for that of the Church.

You cite many evidences that Francis is not a Catholic. Perhaps this is so. But it is also possible that you are mistaken. The correct Catholic position, to the extent that I comprehend it, is that you should not substitute your judgement for that of the Magisterium acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, sent by Christ as foretold in John 16: ““I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

We continue to appreciate your website tremendously.

Laura writes:

Thank you. I understand what you are saying and this is how I have understood the issue. Isn’t it possible that Christ’s promises and the action of the Holy Spirit are still every bit as much alive but Francis is not Catholic?

Edgar Lefebvre writes:

Thank you for your excellent piece on the new pope; someone had to have the courage and integrity to say it.

You are absolutely correct. Don’t doubt yourself .

Let them howl and whine and equivocate. Don’t back down.

Don Vincenzo writes:

You are not alone in your criticism of the pontiff, I assure you. [Laura writes: Yes, I realize that.]

George Neumyar has been relentless in reporting the “off the wall” commentary and actions of Pope Francis I, although he has never gone as far as you did today, about which more at a later time.

The author touches on the current debacle more than once, and my serious doubts about this Pontiff multiplied exponentially after I realized he was a Jesuit, an order that I wrote (in Vdare) several years ago should be suppressed.

This Pope is also, unquestionably, the recipient of the “liberation theology” mindset which also seeks to undermine the institutional foundation of the Church’s operation, and replace it with the feel-good Catholicism that dominates parishes today. What is frustrating about this approach is that the wreckage of the Church can be seen in the empty seminaries and church pews, while, as noted, those disasters are not present in Traditional churches. Yet, this Pontiff exclaims that “the Church has never been better.” Than what?, I would ask.

What you did today may – will? – cause some serious disagreement amongst your readers, and you will be openly chastised for your intemperance. But the hierarchy of the Church cannot teach error, and that charge goes all the way to the Vicar of Christ.

Jonathan writes:

It’s not just Pope Francis. I left the Lutheran Church because of its soft stance on divorce and remarriage. It seems all the churches are in terrible shape. They just resist change. They don’t stand up for eternal truths.

Laura writes:

The Protestant churches have always been in bad shape. I urge you to enter the Catholic Church despite its outward Protestantization. It is the sole path to salvation. I have no desire to leave the Church or to deviate from its teachings.

Natassia writes:

I have been reading your blog for quite a long time.

I was christened as an infant in the Catholic Church (to make my Portuguese maternal grandparents happy, I suppose) but I was raised in the Protestant church. Or perhaps I should say churches because we attended quite a few, some Baptist and some non-denominational.

It has been your writings, as well as those of Ann Barnhardt, that have led me to explore seriously the Catholic faith. My children attend various homeschool clubs and co-ops at a nearby Catholic church, and I assist there. I have yet to speak with a priest, but it is Catholics like you, and the women I know at this particular parish, who have led me to this point, in spite of the present pope. I respect your writings all the more because you do not show an irrational devotion to him. I recently received an email from Priests for Life. It went on and on about how the Pope didn’t really say what he said, and he really didn’t mean what many people have interpreted him to mean. That sort of die-hard loyalty in the face of some egregious comments and behaviors from the Pope is not what attracts me to the Church but rather the rational and principled beliefs and statements from Catholics who call a duck a duck.

Laura writes:

Thank you. I hope you persist. To enter the Catholic Church is to enter a magnificent structure, an invisible cathedral that will never perish, a place of endless fascination and grandeur. Even so, its purpose is not to provide us with personal satisfaction or consolations, but to glorify God and lead us to eternal salvation. I revere the papacy as an institution. Generally, Catholics should not be critiquing the pope. His office is not just human but has a supernatural dimension and one’s allegiance is not based purely on what comes out of his mouth.

A priest with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) writes:

You may find this article helpful.

 Laura writes:

Thank you. I will gladly read it.

 James writes:

It seems to me that if Francis is not a Catholic, and especially if his five immediate predecessors were also not Catholics, that either the Holy Spirit is taking a long break for unclear reasons, or He is not able to lead the disciples into all truth and hence is not God, or He has decided for reasons of His own to dwell elsewhere (an argument especially popular with Calvinists and some Evangelicals).

It may perhaps be more likely that He is leading His Church, as always, and that the conclusion that He has led her to live under heretics since 1958 is based on incomplete understanding of Him and His purposes for His Church.

Let’s hope so.

[Laura writes: I removed a garbled comment of mine here that was poorly expressed and added nothing to the debate.]

Sept. 26, 2013

Laura adds:

Drina questioned my point that the Pope was condoning remarriage. Here is my elaboration.

Paul writes:

We Roman Catholics were taught from birth to believe the Holy Father was semi-divine, and infallible when talking about doctrine, which cannot be changed. But many traditional Catholics forget the limitations they were taught. (Even a nonstop class talker like me inferred, or at least was confused about, these limits.)

Many Roman Catholics want to believe the Holy Father is divine and infallible in whatever he says. Why? They don’t have the time or pervasive Media (as they-we used to) to help them think virtuously in this hurly-burly post-modern world. They have hard jobs and families that consume thinking. They-we naturally want Mommy or Daddy to tell us what to do next, but Mommy and Daddy are no longer around. So we look for substitutes. Indeed, that is why we are talking here.

For example, at the last minute I remembered I needed to go to confession last Saturday. So I went dressed in dirty tennis shoes, jeans, and an untucked sport shirt. After the Act of Contrition, I apologized to Father because of my dress even though he could not see me.

Henry McCulloch writes:

I have been reading your persuasive analysis of Pope Francis’s more-than-unfortunate Civiltà Cattolica interview with great interest.  I can’t yet bring myself to say we have no Pope, but I understand why you have.  While I have read excerpts of the interview, I have not been as diligent as you and read the whole thing.  I suppose I should try to force my way through it, in the original.  But I haven’t yet because I find the whole thing so depressing.

The ad hoc interview on the plane home from Rio was bad enough, but didn’t contain any unquestionable departures from orthodox Catholicism.  With this interview, though, some lines that should be clear have been crossed.  It is stunning to read some of these statements from a Pope.

Even if they were not heterodox, it is scandalous – in the traditionally Catholic sense – that a Pope would permit himself to speak so casually, to leave such leeway for variant interpretations of what he says.  As the guardian both of orthodoxis and  orthopraxis, surely the Pope is under a greater duty than anyone else to be as clear as possible in what he says and how he acts.  That’s why my own reservations about Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s tenure to date go beyond his carefully casual style – even though that, too, is unseemly in a Pope.

Thank you also for the link, courtesy of Don Vincenzo, to George Neumayr’s thoughts.  Let us pray that there is a Cardinal Archbishop somewhere with the force of character to play, as Neumayr suggests, a charitably rebuking Paul to Pope Francis’s erring Peter.  One possibility who occurs to me is Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, Archbishop-Emeritus of Bologna, but I don’t what sort of shape Biffi – who is now 85 – is in.  His has been as forceful a voice for a traditional understanding and preaching of the Faith as I can think of in the Novus Ordo Catholic Church.  In particular, Biffi has warned about the dangers of being seduced by the illusory charms of ecumenism.

I think the Church will only regain Her former strength when the Traditional Mass is again the ordinary form, and the Novus Ordo a declining extraordinary form, a diminishing relic of a confused era.  That day always looked to be far off; it now looks very nearly out of sight.

Thank you again for your reflective insights about our ongoing crisis.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Whether or not Bergolio is formally guilty of heresy, it appears that he is in a state of objective apostasy.  Practically every word he utters is crafted so as to add confusion and muddy the waters of Church teaching, always behind the cloak of words such as “nuance.”  Those who strain and squint in an effort to find the rock-ribbed orthodoxy ingeniously hidden beneath all the layers of liberal Jesuit-speak are simply deluding themselves, because they cannot admit the terrible truth.  (I marvel daily at the scale and scope of the effort by conservatives throughout the Western world to deny the seriousness of our situation, but particularly in matters of faith and morals, and particularly among Catholics who cannot face the awful realities confronting us.)

If this Pope is to be compared to anyone, it must be to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.  Like Williams, Bergolio is an irrepressible font of pious-sounding gobbledygook, a man desperate to be loved by the Church’s enemies, and determined to keep talking until they do.  He will spend his entire reign issuing thousands of words of hazy nonsense, in the same “Give-with-one-hand-while-taking-with-the-other” style for which the post-modern Williams became so famous.  Liberals will take heart and praise him for his constant dilution of Christian truth, his unending criticism of the meanness and insufficiency of all that has come before him, his virtual abrogation of the faith; meanwhile devout Catholics will be fed just enough profound-sounding double-talk to enable them to go on pretending that, while things might not be good, they aren’t really so bad.

It is tempting to make predictions of formal schism and the like, but it is ultimately an unwise policy to speculate in that direction.  What I will say is that those people who cite Matthew 16:18 are engaging in gallant spin.  I know from weary experience that this is a favorite verse of conservatives to cite whenever the conversation turns to the extreme state of decay and dissolution affecting the Church.  What they fail to see in their happy-talk interpretation of that passage is that it refers to Hell’s gates.  The gates of a city were understood as its last line of defense, not its front lines of assault, so it would seem Christ’s words here refer to the ultimate spiritual victory of the Church Militant.  I do not read that promise as an assurance that the visible Church as we have known it will never collapse, shorn of its former might and glory.  It is already very far advanced in that direction, and if anything is obvious about our Jesuit Pontiff at this stage, it is that he fervently wishes to accelerate the Church’s decline as an outward source of awe and influence.

God’s law will not be mocked forever.  Someone on another thread described  this papacy as “a chastisement.”  This seems right to me.  Decline and ultimate enslavement to one’s enemies has ever been the fate of God’s people when they have turned from him, and fallen back into the worship of the dark.  That seems to be the road we are going down, and those who would deny this truth are abettors of our decline.

Mr. McLaughlin adds:

Another word on that excommunicated priest.  Get a load of this quote of his from the (extremely liberal, heterodox NCR):

“I am very surprised that this order has come under his watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done.”

Yes, precisely so, which is the point that Bergolio’s defenders seem to be missing.  It simply will not do to blame the clear implication of his remarks–some of which were cribbed straight from the liberal anti-Catholic cliche machine, such as his ludicrous suggestion that the Church has been “obsessed” with preaching against gays and abortion–on some conspiracy of the liberal media to “distort” his real meaning.  Everybody is drawing the same conclusions, all at the same time, about his meaning.  That is entirely his doing, and if he’s been that badly misunderstood then it must be admitted that he is simply a miserable extemporaneous speaker and should confine all his future ruminations on such matters to written statements that have been carefully edited for clarity.  Bergolio’s defenders need to explain how, exactly, everybody from the traditionalist right to the atheist left has magically “misunderstood” him in the exact same way at the exact same time.  The more creditable conclusion is that he has said just what he has appeared to say to almost everyone listening.

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