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 The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei 
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New post The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei ... to-de.html

This article is devastatingly dangerous. It begins with loose ideas, and rapidly descends to heterodoxy.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The authority of the Pope has precise limits however, which cannot be ignored. Javier Hervada in his well-known manual on Constitutional Canon Law, writes: “The power of the pope is not unlimited: it is circumscribed within determined limits. The limits may regard the validity or lawfulness in his exercise of power. The limits regarding validity are given as: a) of the natural law: b) of the positive Divine law; c) of the nature and the ends of the Church”[4].

If the Pope oversteps these limits he deviates from the Catholic Faith.

There are any number of potential abuses able to be committed by a (true) pope which would not be "deviations from the Catholic faith." This is sloppy writing at best.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The hypothesis of a heretic Pope is treated as [a]“scholion” in all theological treatises[6].

De Mattei cites Journet for this opinion. I haven't bothered checking Journet, because the assertion is manifestly untrue. Very few theological treatises treat of this question. There are thousands of theological treatises, dealing with everything from the exact characteristics of the natural state of beatitude of Adam and Eve, to the nature of the beatific vision; only some of the treatises dealing with ecclesiology, and some few others, deal with the pope heretic thesis.

Sloppy writing again, at best. This is the mark of a man not accustomed to treating theology; a historian grappling with matters outside of his ken.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
It should be emphasized that the expression “private doctor” does not refer to the Supreme Pontiff’s acts of a private nature, but to his “public” function as supreme Pastor of the Church[7].

This is the precise opposite of the truth. Consider this answer given in the American Ecclesiastical Review in 1897:

Qu. … Another question which obtrudes itself here is: Is it admissible that the Sovereign Pontiff could ever be heretical in his expressions on subjects of faith? And how could such expressions be distinguished as heretical since there is no authority above the Pope to judge the degree of his orthodoxy, which by reason of its coming formally from the actual head of the Church, is, it would seem, stamped with the seal of infallibility?

Resp. … As to the question whether a Pontiff could be heretical in his expressions, it seems altogether futile. History has hitherto furnished no example of such an occurrence, though there have been allegations of the kind, as in the case of Honorius. If Christ has promised to keep the Church from error through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, we may suppose that He will keep the Pontiff, to whom He has committed the guidance of that Church, likewise from error. And as the weaknesses of members in the Church do not militate against this operation of the Holy Ghost, neither would the personal weaknesses of its head interfere with the divine promise. For the rest, the admission that the Pope, whilst personally peccable, yet in his office as supreme teacher and moderator of the Church is infallible, covers the whole case; nor is there any more difficulty here than there is in distinguishing between the official acts of a sovereign and his private deeds, not as a private man but as sovereign.

(Question and Answer, American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. XVII 1897, pp. 312 -314. Emphasis added.)

Are these "private acts" the acts of the pope? Explicitly, no. They may be the acts of the Bishop of Rome, or of the Patriarch of the West, or of the King of Rome, but they are most certainly not papal acts. Not all papal acts are acts defining truths of faith and morals, and therefore not all papal acts are posited under the protection of the charism of infallibility, but the notion of papal acts that are heretical is not even considered by the Roman theologians. Such a notion is blasphemous.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
This infallibility is expressed in the so-called “sensus fidelium”[16], of which the entire people of God enjoy infallibility not only by reflex, but also pro-actively, as often they anticipate Church definitions, or contribute in making them clearer: for example, this occurred before the Council of Ephesus proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of God. St. Cyril[17] and St. Celestine[18] attest that the Christian populace already acknowledged belief in the Divine Maternity as “the faith that the Universal Church professes”[19]

This too is contrary to Roman Theology. The objective content expressed in the sensus fidelium is a result of the preaching of the Church. The Church believing is taught by the Church teaching, and then holds fast to what it has received. Equipped by the virtue of faith, the individual believer is aided by the Holy Ghost in this holding fast to what he has received. He knows the teaching of the Church - because he has been taught the content of that faith - and he can recognise what is incompatible with it, and he knows that he has no right to accept such novelties. Yes, he is aided in this discernment by the Holy Ghost, but it depends utterly, radically, and essentially, upon the teaching activity of the Church. "Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14).

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The first historical manifestation of the sensus fidei however, may be regarded as the Arian Crisis in which, according to the careful reconstruction by Blessed John Henry Newman[21] (1801-1890), the ‘Church teaching’ appeared often uncertain and lost, but the sensus fidelium preserved the integrity of the Faith, so much so that St. Hilary was able to say: “Sanctiores sunt aures fideles populi labiis sacerdotum”[22]. Card. Newman writes: “There was a temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens. The body of Bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, once against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years”. During this period, he adds, “the Divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate”[23].

Newman's doctrine here got him into trouble with Rome, and he was forced to write a "clarification" in the pages of The Rambler, the forum in which, as a Catholic, he had first put these unorthodox ideas (he had previously published them, as an Anglican, in his Arians of the Fourth Century, but of course the Catholic Church at that time took no notice; now, Rome was vitally concerned). The result was Newman resigned as editor of The Rambler. It is not astonishing that Conciliarists should embrace Newman's unsound ideas, against the clear witness of history that these ideas were considered as reprehensible by Rome; it is sad that traditionalists should be so insensitive to Tradition!

Repeatedly, from this point in his essay onward, de Mattei cites evidence which applies to the fact that the "Church teaching" (the ecclesia docens) is infallible, as if it applied to the "Church taught" (the ecclesia discens), without however showing the dependency of the latter upon the former. He makes the sensus fidelium into a kind of Gnosticism, by which the faithful receive light directly from the Holy Ghost by which they just know, without being taught, what is sound and what is unsound. This is an abuse of the sources, conflating the sensus fidelium with such concepts as the consensus of the Church, and other perfectly clear and distinct notions of the theologians.

Are we really surprised? De Mattei is a student of TFP founder Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, and openly praises in this very article, on this very subject (the sensus fidelium) the works of Modernist theologians such as Joseph Ratzinger and two members of Opus Dei! TFP was condemned by Bishop de Castro Mayer, who knew it intimately, as a heretical sect; no comment is required, for traditionalists, on Ratzinger or Opus Dei.

If any doubt remains about what pure Gnosticism is involved here, take a look at this example of totally non-Catholic illuminism from de Matei:
Roberto de Mattei wrote:
In 2014, the International Theological Commission, presided by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, published a study, entitled The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, interesting, most of all for its references to St. Thomas Aquinas[37]. In these pages it is made clear, that unlike theology, which can be described as a scientia fidei, the sensus fidei is not a reflexive, conceptual knowledge of the mysteries of the Faith, but a spontaneous intuition, with which the believer adheres to the true Faith or refuses what opposes it[38]. [Emphasis added.]

Much of the explanatory material which follows this point in de Mattei's article is perfectly compatible with the truths of theology. Unfortunately, by this point, however, the damage is done. He has omitted to state the true nature of the sensus fidelium, he has presented texts on distinct points of theology as though they bore on this matter, and he has stated quite erroneously that the sensus fidelium is some kind of independent instinct, given by the Holy Ghost, without reference to the concrete, living, magisterium, without which it can have no orthodox meaning. For battle-worn traditionalists, who are trying to keep their faith in the midst of a milieu packed with heterodox teachers masquerading as Successors of the Apostles, such a doctrine is like a siren song, beautiful, intoxicating, and leading to the rocks...

Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:49 pm
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New post Re: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Matte
This is not about sedevacantism. It’s about the truths of the faith.

In brief, Newman (and many at V2, and now Mattei) put forward a notion that fails to maintain the truth that the faithful get the content of the faith from the hierarchy. Without that truth, you’re heading for illuminism. Rome reacted strongly in the nineteenth century to this error, and Mattei (and many others in the past sixty years) ignores that and blithely reintroduces Newman’s error as a great and important truth!

The sensus fidelium is indeed a faculty supported by grace. It consists in that connatural instinct by which we retain and maintain by intellectual recognition and strength of will what has once been given to us. That last phrase implies, as essential, the magisterium. What the sensus fidelium is not, is some kind of special inspiration enlightening us as to what the Church teaches, independent of actual, external preaching by authorized ministers. I agree that this grace enables us to reject error, even if it were to come via an angel from heaven, or a bishop, or a pope. That’s not the point. The point is that the intellect is informed, by natural means (aided by grace, or perfected by grace in its operation, but still operating according to nature, and not outside of nature, such as private revelation implies), of what it is that Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed, by the Church. Faith cometh by hearing. After that, we hold fast (with the aid of the Holy Ghost). Without that, we cannot know what He revealed. However you explain the sensus fidelium, you have to make this point. If you leave it out, you’re opening the door to all manner of false spiritualism, mysticism, and ultimately, Protestantism.

As for those times when the living magisterium is not operating, or not telling the truth, I deny they ever existed or can exist. This was Newman’s error in a slightly different guise, and Rome rejected it. His phrase “there was a temporary suspense of the ecclesia docens” was regarded by Rome as poison. Yes, I know some variation of that error is a common view among trads now, but that doesn’t make it orthodox!

Indeed, and ironically, it is because people perceive that sedevacantism leads to the absence of the living magisterium that they reject it. So, underneath their confusion, they do know that you cannot have a Church without an active magisterium. So, whatever theory we have, we have to say where the hierarchy is. On the sedeplenist theory, the hierarchy includes the Modernists and (in my view) wrecks the nature of the magisterium; on the sedevacantist theory, the integrity of the magisterium is maintained, but many or most of the purported hierarchy are rejected as not truly exercising it – that is, they do not represent the Church, do not speak in her name, and therefore the magisterium is not soiled by their errors and heresies. (There’s a strain of sedevacantist theory which denies or at least entertains the notion that the entire hierarchy is extinct – I have argued energetically against this for many, many, years. I was slanderously misrepresented on this point in a book late last year.) But again, the main objection to sedevacantism relies upon the insistence that there be an actual, living, hierarchy. In itself, that’s a sound instinct. But that brings us back to de Mattei. TFP, Opus Dei, and Newman. He’s dangerous. To the weary and uninformed trad in the pew, his ideas will appeal, and his ideas are Newman’s ideas, reprehensible to the Catholic Church.

Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:29 am
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New post Re: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Matte
I have now discovered where this heterodox idea of Robert de Mattei's on the "sensus fidei" comes from. ... ei_en.html

I had not previously checked his references. His footnote 16 is: "Theology differentiates between sensus fidei fidelis to make reference to the personal attitude of the believer and that sensus fidei fidelium to make reference to the instinct of faith of the Church Herself."

This is a concise summary of the document linked above at the Vatican Web site. Let's take a brief look at it.

By the gift of the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father’ and bears witness to the Son (Jn 15:26), all of the baptised participate in the prophetic office of Jesus Christ, ‘the faithful and true witness’ (Rev 3:14). They are to bear witness to the Gospel and to the apostolic faith in the Church and in the world. The Holy Spirit anoints them and equips them for that high calling, conferring on them a very personal and intimate knowledge of the faith of the Church. In the first letter of St John, the faithful are told: ‘you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge’, ‘the anointing that you received from [Christ] abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you’, ‘his anointing teaches you about all things’ (1Jn 2:20, 27).

This is the opening paragraph of the document. Reading it, one senses that it is suggesting that the Holy Ghost enlightens believers directly, informing them of the content of the faith, but it isn't clear that this is where it is going. If it were going there, then we would be face to face with heresy. Little does the reader realise at his point just how directly this heresy will actually be expressed.

In the present document, we use the term, sensus fidei fidelis, to refer to the personal aptitude of the believer to make an accurate discernment in matters of faith, and sensus fidei fidelium to refer to the Church’s own instinct of faith. According to the context, sensus fidei refers to either the former or the latter, and in the latter case the term, sensus fidelium, is also used.

4. The importance of the sensus fidei in the life of the Church was strongly emphasised by the Second Vatican Council. Banishing the caricature of an active hierarchy and a passive laity, and in particular the notion of a strict separation between the teaching Church (Ecclesia docens) and the learning Church (Ecclesia discens), the council taught that all the baptised participate in their own proper way in the three offices of Christ as prophet, priest and king. In particular, it taught that Christ fulfills his prophetic office not only by means of the hierarchy but also via the laity.

So there it is, Vatican II treats the sound doctrine of the entire history of the Church - i.e. tradition - as a "caricature" which is to be banished. The traditional distinction (not "separation") between the Church Teaching and the Church Learning is to be done away with, in favour of a kind of Gnosticism or Illuminism, whereby whatever the individual believer feels that the Holy Ghost is revealing to him is the true faith.

As this heretical rubbish is unfolded further, the entirely modern heterodox notion that the faithful are taught the doctrines of the faith by the Holy Ghost is confused with the entirely distinct orthodox doctrine that the whole Church (including the faithful) cannot err.

The concept of the sensus fidelium began to be elaborated and used in a more systematic way at the time of the Reformation, though the decisive role of the consensus fidelium in the discernment and development of doctrine concerning faith and morals was already recognised in the patristic and medieval periods. What was still needed, however, was more attention to the specific role of the laity in this regard. That issue received attention particularly from the nineteenth century onwards.

And then, almost as if with a drum roll, appears our old friend, an Anglican at the time of writing, Newman:
In some cases, as Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-90) remarked, the faith of the laity, in particular, played a crucial role. The most striking example was in the famous controversy in the fourth century with the Arians, who were condemned at the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), where the divinity of Jesus Christ was defined. From then until the Council of Constantinople (381 AD), however, there continued to be uncertainty among the bishops. During that period, ‘the divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate’. ‘[T]here was a temporary suspense of the functions of the “Ecclesia docens”. The body of Bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years.’[17]

Unfortunately for Newman, and for the International Theological Commission, the very passages presented here were censured strongly by Cardinal Franzelin and others in Rome, when Newman repeated his erroneous doctrine as a Catholic in The Rambler, in 1859. The result was that Newman resigned as editor of The Rambler and, in later editions of his Arians of the Fourth Century, he took the offending passages out of the main text, placed them in an appendix, and tried to put an orthodox interpretation upon them. Whether he succeeded or not will depend upon whether you trust Rome, which remained suspicious of him, or the liberals like the pernicious Lord Acton, who lionized him. You can consult the seventh edition of Newman’s work here: ... g_djvu.txt - scroll down to page 465 for the clarifications. Note also that on page 464, Newman, perhaps prompted by his near-death experience at the hands of Franzelin, ascribes the possibility of a pope erring exclusively to when he acts “as a private doctor” (i.e. the Roman, not Gallican, doctrine).

Fr. Marin-Sola explains how it is possible to appreciate Newman, without thinking of him as a good teacher of Catholics:

Newman’s book [An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine] is like the bridge through which one passes from Anglicanism to Catholicism; this constitutes its great merit. But, by the same token, it is also the bridge through which one can, either through carelessness or mistake, pass from Catholicism to Anglicanism or Modernism; this constitutes its possible danger. To approach this conception of the Catholic Church as seen from the outside, which Newman offers in his book, is, for a Catholic, to approach the extreme confines where wherein Catholicism borders on Protestantism, whereas, for a Protestant, it is to approach the extreme confines where Protestantism borders on Catholicism.

This is why we usually refrain from indifferently advising any Catholic young man to read this and certain other works of Newman unless he possesses solid philosophico-theological grounding...

(Marin-Sola, The Homogeneous Evolution of Catholic Dogma, p. 399.)

What was the issue in relation to The Arians of the Fourth Century? In brief, Newman inverted the Church and implied that the faithful could learn and maintain her doctrine in spite of the hierarchy, when in fact this is not what happened and could not conceivably happen in the nature of things. The faithful may well have an instinct (the sensus fidelium) by which they recognise that novelties contradict what they are already bound to hold as a result of the authoritative preaching of the Church, but included in this very sensus fidelium is the desire to find true pastors who will not merely offer the true mass, but will preach the true faith to them, to strengthen and preserve them in it. Newman forgot, or more likely, never understood, that factor (how could he understand it, as an Anglican with Catholic sympathies incompatible with the teaching of his own church?). The faithful know the voice of the Master, and they seek it. In this present crisis as in the Arian crisis, the facts illustrate this reality. Where the faithful have tried to maintain the faith without good priests to guide them, they have all too often suffered shipwreck; where we have sought out, and found, faithful priests, we have kept the faith, we are strong in it, and we are able to do our duties, especially those related to raising our children. Newman’s theory is pure fancy, divorced from the facts, even apart from its unorthodox odour.

The reality of the Catholic Church is that the Spirit of Truth, acting as her Soul, constantly guides her in such a way that the sins and crimes of men may temporarily disturb her organisation, but she immediately and, to all appearances automatically, reorganises herself, so that the faithful once betrayed by their former pastors find, and attach themselves, to faithful and good priests who will confirm them in the faith, lead them in true worship, and keep them safe from the depredations of heretics. This is what happened during the Arian Crisis, and exactly the same thing happened in the West in the Great Schism of Paul VI.

Newman supports his erroneous doctrine with a false dichotomy, which he presents as “the greatest evangelical lesson, that, not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak constitute her real strength.” Note that this idea is also found in the document from the International Theological Commission.

The sophism here is obvious. It is true, of course, that Our Lord uses the weak to confound the strong, but this means the weak in natural terms: those without exceptional gifts of intellect or will, who are supported by grace to confound the worldly-wise and naturally strong. In the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, the wise and the learned are the holiest of men, and the unlearned and the weak in spiritual terms are of no account, at best. The real strength of the Church has a twofold source, one hidden, one manifest – the Spirit of Truth who animates her, and the Roman Pontiff, who is her principle of visible unity. Power and supernatural wisdom are essentially and necessarily combined in the Catholic Church, as are wisdom and moral strength. This remains true even in unworthy rulers, so long as they retain the profession of the true faith, for faith is wisdom par excellence (and if that wisdom is publicly abandoned, so is membership in the Church and jurisdiction with it).

The International Theological Commission continues:
Yves M.-J. Congar (1904-1995) contributed significantly to the development of the doctrine of the sensus fidei fidelis and the sensus fidei fidelium. In Jalons pour une Théologie du Laïcat (orig. 1953), he explored this doctrine in terms of the participation of the laity in the Church’s prophetical function. Congar was acquainted with Newman’s work and adopted the same scheme (i.e. the threefold office of the Church, and the sensus fidelium as an expression of the prophetic office) without, however, tracing it directly to Newman.[52] He described the sensus fidelium as a gift of the Holy Spirit ‘given to the hierarchy and the whole body of the faithful together’, and he distinguished the objective reality of faith (which constitutes the tradition) from the subjective aspect, the grace of faith.[53] Where earlier authors had underlined the distinction between the Ecclesia docens and the Ecclesia discens, Congar was concerned to show their organic unity. ‘The Church loving and believing, that is, the body of the faithful, is infallible in the living possession of the faith, not in a particular act or judgment’, he wrote.[54] The teaching of the hierarchy is at the service of communion.

In many ways, the Second Vatican Council’s teaching reflects Congar’s contribution.

So there you have it. This novelty essentially started with an Anglican, was picked up by the Modernist Congar, and found its way into the documents of Vatican II. Now we're being fed it by Robert de Mattei and others, as though it were traditional.

When you see "sensus fidelium" in the current climate, grab your wallet.

In Christ our King.

Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:45 am
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New post Re: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Matte
Some more comments on this issue.

I had not, until recently, come across this heresy. It's particularly important to traditional Catholics because our position is intimately connected with the question of how we can, when necessary, rightfully reject the instruction of a lawful pastor. The key is to note that we are already bound to hold fast to what we have been taught. We are not therefore permitted to adopt novelties incompatible with established doctrine. In this understanding, we keep the proper order between the ecclesia docens and the ecclesia discens, and yet we also have an entirely solid basis for rejecting novelties. The members of the hierarchy obtain their knowledge of the objects of faith from being taught them by their elders, the members of the Teaching Church, just as the faithful do. When they first become members of the hierarchy they do not receive some special illumination of new data, they receive graces them enable them to understand and authoritatively expound and, under the requisite conditions, infallibly propose what they have already learned.

The new (heretical) doctrine (deriving from Newman, via Congar, to Vatican II, and now promoted by Robert de Mattei to unsuspecting traditionalists) founds the faithful resistance to false doctrine on an entirely false basis, which is some kind of interior illumination by the Holy Ghost, which they are calling the sensus fidei fidelis. This new doctrine wrecks the proper order of teacher-subject, essentially making all of the faithful equal with the members of the hierarchy, since all have the same source for the content of the faith - the Holy Ghost "anointing" us with knowledge. The infused virtue of faith is in this way expanded into an infused knowledge of the data of revelation, and it's downhill from there. This would explain why catechetical instruction collapsed after Vatical II, also. If every believer is mysteriously infused with knowledge by the Holy Ghost, the magisterium becomes nothing more than a consensus-building operation between “believers.”

This heresy is parallel with the other well-known heresy of Vatican II, which places an inordinate emphasis on the common priesthood of all the baptised, so as to make it equal to the priesthood deriving from the Sacrament of Orders. In a way, one could almost have predicted the rise of this heresy of illuminism, as it is really the application of the democratic principle to another of the three offices of Christ. So, the sharing in the priesthood of Christ is reinterpreted so as to level down all members of the Church to an essentially equal status, and now the prophetical office of Christ shared by the members of the mystical body suffers the same flattening process, eliminating any real distinction between the magisterium and the common witness of the faithful. Both of these distortions arise from the notion of the French Revolution of essential equality of all - that is, the democratic principle - and this, of course, is the radical denial of all hierarchy, which in the Church is the denial of the third of the offices of Christ, His Kingship. So, denial of Kingship therefore leads inevitably to destruction of inequality of order in the priesthood, and likewise, inequality of order in the prophetical function.

Mon May 01, 2017 4:17 am
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