The Failed Defense of the SSPX – Reply to Bocca


In his attack against the canonical and ecclesial legitimacy of the SSPX, the heretic John Salza, in his article, The Failed Defense of the SSPX, argues: “that the ministry of the Society is illegitimate due to its lack of a juridical (or extraordinary) mission, according to divine law and the teaching of the Church.

The Salza argument is founded on an egregious non sequitur. Canonical mission by grant of superiors is indeed of necessity of precept, but that necessity is not an absolute necessity, it is a relative necessity of precept. The absolute necessity of precept pertains to the divine command: go forth and make disciples
of all nations, etc. (Matt. 28: 1920) Authority is given by God only to accomplish the mission assigned by God, to build the Church but not to destroy it : “Even if I went on to brag about our authority, I wouldn’t be ashamed of it. The Lord gave us that authority to build you up and not to destroy you.” ;He gave it to me so that I could build you up, not tear you down. (2 Cor 10:8: 13:10) That authority was given only to be exercised according to divine law, because God is the architect and builder: “He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10) All laws and precepts contrary to the law of God and the divine constitution and mission of the Church are null and void, because: “As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord.” (Eph. 2: 2021) Any precepts against faith and
morals, including the divine precepts to adhere to the traditional rites (Council of Constance Sess. 39), must be disobeyed. No pastor, not even a pope would have the authority to nullify the mission of the Church by enforcing an illicit liturgy or doctrine on the pastors and denying or withdrawing jurisdiction to the ministers who refuse to transgress the law of Christ and the tradition of the Apostles. It pertains to Natural Law, as a matter of natural equity that jurisdiction is supplied in cases whenever a command of absolute necessity of precept requires it to be given in situations where human authority withdraws it in order to subvert the rule of divine law.
Even in earlier centuries, when canon law was still in a primitive state, and particular churches in geographically remote places (such as Ireland) were effectively cut off from communication with the Church of Rome for long periods of time; those churches continued to function, and exercised the de facto power of jurisdiction which Natural Law required that they be given ipso jure in accordance with Natural Equity, even when there was no pope available to them to grant them jurisdiction by express
delegation, since the God of infinite justice cannot deny what is just; and it is demanded by justice that the necessary jurisdiction be given to those who are commanded by God as a matter of absolute necessity to carry out the mission entrusted to them by God, and therefore, with the power of jurisdiction having been permanently bestowed on the Church by her divine Founder, it is therefore
quite impossible that these powers could be lacking, or withheld by God during an exceptional time when the ordinary manner of the rule of law would break down and be interrupted due to such extraordinary circumstances as those foretold in Scripture for the End Times, when the traitorous pastors become destroyers intent on destroying the Church and hindering her mission. I have already explained the matter sufficiently in my books, The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy, To Deceive the Elect, and On the True and the False Pope The Case against Bergoglio. Even in the time of the Great Tribulation when the Church will be reduced in numbers and its visibility temporarily obscured, and the See of Rome will be vacant for some years (according to prophecies of some saints), as indeed it had been vacant for some years in past centuries, the Church will carry on with its mission,
even against the will of traitorous pastors who seek to subvert the Church’s mission, because the Church
has received her mission from Christ, and not from the pope or the bishops; and the attribute of indefectibility was conferred by the divine Founder on the Church, who is not subject to the mere letter of any ecclesiastical law decreed by an ecclesiastical potentate who would attempt to nullify the Law of Christ. Thus, it is clear, that the heretic Salza, is again indulging in his own bizarre homespun voodoo theology when he claims that the SSPX circumvents divine law by carrying out the mission of the Church in accordance with divine precept to preach the Gospel and sanctify souls in
opposition to the commands of false pastors who oppose the Law of Christ.

One must ask: Why does OnePeter5 look to the heretic Salza as a theological authority? Authority is founded on the word of God which declares the authority of the men through whom divine revelation is delivered to us. (Summa Theol. I q. 1 a. 2 ad 2 ) The infallible teaching authority in the Church is founded on and pertains ultimately to the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff, which Vatican I defined as a “total fullness of supreme power”, and for which reason it defined that all questions of doctrine are reserved to his judgment. In his writings, Salza, (as I have pointed out in my books), repeatedly and explicitly denies this dogma, repeatedly asserting a heretical exception to this dogma, stating that a heretical pope remains in office until he is judged guilty of heresy by the Church, i.e., by a Council.** However, for so long as an indubitably valid pope holds office, it is infallibly defined that absolutely all judgments on doctrinal questions are reserved to the jurisdiction of his primacy. This is a dogma of faith. There can exist no exception. The exception, as I have explained at length in my books, and will briefly capsulize here, is made in the canons and papal teachings precisely because a heretic is per se an incapable subject of the papacy, who therefore cannot validly hold the papal munus. In medieval canon law, an exceptio eliminated the necessity of a trial for a manifest heretic pope, so that the administrative procedure of removal could be prescribed without a formal penal process, as would be in the case of an accusatio against a suspected heretic pope. A pope cannot be judged by anyone, except if he is a
heretic, since the heretic is intrinsically incapable of being a valid pope.

The Fifth Lateran Council in the Ninth Session (Bull on the Reform of the Curia) ruled, “All false Christians and those with evil sentiments towards the faith, of whatever race or nation they may be, as well as heretics and those stained with some taint of heresy, or Judaizers, are to be totally excluded from the company of Christ’s faithful and expelled from any position, especially from the Roman curia, and punished with an appropriate penalty.” Pope Innocent III, taught (Sermo IV. IN CONSECRATIONE PONTIFICIS), “Since the Roman Pontiff has no other superior than God … who could cast him out or trample him under foot?… But he ought not vainly flatter
himself because of his power… because the less he is judged by men, the more he is judged by God. I say the less, because he can be judged by men, or rather he can be shown to be already judged, if he should wither away into heresy; because «he who does not believe has already been judged (John III)»” St. Alphonsus, following exactly the doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine’s fifth opinion, pronounces on the question of judging a pope, saying: “We answer, that if ever a pope as a private person would fall into heresy, then he would immediately fall from the papacy; for since he would be outside the Church, he could no longer be the head of the Church. Whence in that case the Church would have to not in fact depose him, because no one has power over the pope, but declare him to have fallen from the pontificate.” (Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Vindiciae pro suprema pontificis potestate adversus Iustinum Febronium, Torino,
1832, p. 142) He adds, Pope Symmachus said: The Pope is the supreme pastor, subject to no judgment
except in the case of heresy. Tom. 2. Concilior. It is in this sense that Ballerini (De PotestateEcclesiastica, Cap. IX § I no. 5) explains the meaning of the canonical exception of heresy in judging a pope: “In the sacred canons, where the scandals of the Pontiffs are discussed, we read that it is decreed that they are not to be obeyed, nor is their example to be followed, where they act or command anything contrary to the divine law, but they never indicate that they are to be subjected to the
judgment of anyone, unless perhaps they are devious from the faith. The exception of heresy is due to the fact that, on account of the heresy itself, falling ipso facto from the pontificate, they would lose their jurisdiction of primacy, as will be explained in the following paragraph.” Don Pietro Ballerini, who famously followed the fifth opinion of Bellarmine, stated in the following paragraphs that those who follow this opinion, “assert the right of a general council over a Pope deviating from the faith, but whom
they propound to be a heretic; because they believe such a Pontiff by the heresy itself to be severed and cut off from the foundation of the Church which is faith, and consequently from the Church itself, and to have utterly fallen from the Pontificate, and in this hypothesis it will be the right of the general council over him, who is no longer the Pontiff, nor does he possess the primacy.” (Ballerini, De Pot. Ecc. Caput
IX. §. II. pp. 128129)* Ballerini adds that this was already the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, whom he cited in a footnote, saying: “(1) Innocent III favours this opinion, in his third sermon writing on the day of his consecration; To such an extent faith is necessary for me, that, while for other sins I have God for a judge, because of the sin which is committed against faith, I could be judged by the Church. See Sylvium
in 2. 2. S. Thomæ tom. 3. q. 39. art. 3. conclus. 2.” (De Pot. Ecc. p. 127 footnote 1) It is in this context that Ballerini explains the meaning of the “exception to papal injudicability in the case of heresy: “In the sacred canons, where the scandals of the Pontiffs are discussed, we read that it is decreed that they are not to be obeyed, nor is their example to be followed, where they act or command anything contrary to the divine law, but they never indicate that they are to be subjected to the judgment of
anyone, unless perhaps they are devious from the faith. The exception of heresy is due to the fact that, on account of the heresy itself, falling ipso facto from the pontificate, they would lose their jurisdiction of primacy, as will be explained in the following paragraph. In the following paragraphs he explains that by manifesting pertinacity, “he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be
necessary.” He then adds that the Church’s declaration would only need to be published to stating that, he by his own will departed,” and, would declare him to have separated from the body of the Church, and in some manner to have abdicated the Pontificate, which no one holds or can hold, who is not in the Church. (Ibid.) Thus it is also clear from this explanation of the eminent canonisttheologian, and
contemporary of St. Alphonsus, exactly what the Holy Doctor was getting at by quoting the Roman Council under Pope Symmachus which taught, “The Pope is the supreme pastor, subject to no judgment except in the case of heresy.” It cannot mean that a true and valid pope can be judged by his inferiors in the case of heresy, because then, contrary to the dogma of the Primacy, the supreme and infallible
judge would be judged by an inferior and fallible judge. Even a century before the solemn definition of the Primacy, Ballerini was explicit on this point that a true and valid pope can never be judged by a council, explaining, “undoubtedly the right of the primacy always remains in reality with a true and legitimate Pontiff, who always, being superior to the whole Church and whatever council by this right of the primacy, is removed from the jurisdiction of those others.” (De Potestate Ecclesiastica Summorum
Pontificum Et Conciliorum Generalium, Auctore Petro Ballerinio Presbytero Veronensi, Augustæ Vindelicorum (Augsburg), 1770, p. 132) If the pope could be judged by a council, there would either be two heads (Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Vindiciae pro suprema pontificis potestate adversus Iustinum

Febronium, Torino, 1832, p. 164.) judging against each other; or, if the council were supreme in such a case by way of exception, then then the dogma which defines that the judgment of all disputes in matters of faith is reserved exclusively to the pope would be erroneous. Thus, in accordance with the teaching of Bellarmine, Ballerini, St. Alphonsus and Gregory XVI all of whom based their teaching on the doctrine of Innocent III it would not be a true pope who would be judged a heretic and deposed by his inferiors; but it would be a false pope, who for reason of his evident heresy, would be judged by the Church to be no pope, because the Church infallibly recognizes
the heretic for what he is: an alien, an outsider, an impostor, who is not their shepherd but a heretic: “For such faith the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Church have kept for each other, that they suitably are able to fit together, which the Truth says in the Gospel: «I know my sheep, and mine know me (John X)»: they do not follow the stranger but flee, because they do not know the voice of strangers. The strangers are the heretics and schismatics, which the Roman Church does not follow, but pursues and drives away. They recognize and hear their own, not apostate but apostolic: not Cathar but Catholic, receiving and rendering the conjugal debt, receiving from him the debt of providence, and rendering the debt of reverence.” Innocent III

*“In sacris canonibus , ubi de scandalis Pontificum agitur , cum agitur , statutum legitur ipsis non obediendum , nec sequenda eorum exempla , ubi aliquid contra divinam legem agant vel præcipiant :numquam vero judicio cujusquam fubjiciendos indicant , nisi forte sint a fide devii . Quæ hæresis exceptio ea de causa fit , quia ob hæresim ipfo facto a pontificatu decidentes , primatus jurisdictionemamitterent , ut explicabitur paragrapho fequenti”.

** In their article, FR. PAUL KRAMER REFUSES TO SUBMIT HIS WORK TO REVIEW BY COMPETENT THEOLOGIANS, Salza & Siscoe heretically assert, “a heretical Pope is still the Pope, until the Church’s authorities judge him to be a formal heretic.”


The pseudo traditionalist Robert J. Siscoe falsely claims: «We did not falsify the teaching of Ballerini. In the book [True or False Pope?], we state over and over again that the pope will not lose his jurisdiction until the Church establishes the crime (that is the phrase we use). The Church “establishes the crime”
by judging that the doctrine he professes is qualified as heretical (not a lesser error), and then issuing one or more ecclesiastical warnings. If the pope remains hardened in heresy in the face of these warnings, he publicly reveals his pertinacity and thereby manifests his heresy (since heresy requires pertinacity). This is an indirect judgment of the Pope which reveals that “he is already judged” (by God).
All of this precedes the loss of papal jurisdiction for an heretical Pope. That is how we explain it in the book, and it is exactly how Ballerini explains it.» In the Ballerini passage cited by Siscoe, Siscoe asserts the heretical proposition that a pope will “lose his jurisdiction” when the Church judges “the doctrine he professes is qualified as heretical”. As has been shown in my two volumes of To Deceive the Elect, Siscoe
& Salza have drawn this heresy of Mitigated Conciliarism directly from the writings of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, which were written centuries before the solemn definitions on papal primacy and
infallibility of Vatican I anathematized all such opinions which assert any power whatsoever of a council to judge in matters of faith against the Roman Pontiff. To date, John Salza and Robert Siscoe remain
obstinate in their Conciliarist heresy. Their contumacy in heresy is plainly evident in their explicitly stated heresy in their replies to my objections:

Objection 1: «An imperfect council is incapable of judging on a matter of faith infallibly, and therefore cannot definitively judge with finality whether a pope’s opinion is heresy, and from there determine that the pope is indeed a contumacious heretic.”»

Salza & Siscoe Reply to Objection 1: « That is why theologians and canonists distinguish between a “new heresy,” and one that has already been the subject of an infallibly judgment by a Pope or council, and teach that a Pope can only be declared a heretic for contumaciously denying the latter. Once the Church has defined a dogma, everyone including future Popes are bound to believe it; and anyone
who denies a defined dogma including a future Pope will be a heretic.»

Commentary: Salza & Siscoe heretically claim in this passage that an IMPERFECT COUNCIL is the FINAL AND SUPREME JUDGE on the question of whether a pope’s opinion is heretical, and that a selfappointed “council” has the necessary jurisdiction to decide in a matter of faith against a validly reigning pope; and that that a validly reigning Pontiff can be declared a heretic for contumaciously denying a
dogma that the council deems to have already been the subject of an infallibly judgment by a Pope or council. However, it has been repeatedly taught solemnly and definitively by the supreme magisterium that the final judgment in ALL matters of faith is reserved to the authority of the pope. I have cited verbatim the texts of the relevant decrees in Volume One, but Salza & Siscoe shove them aside and deliberately ignore them, and continue to insolently assert their position which directly contradicts
those solemn pronouncements. It is SOLEMNLY DEFINED in Pastor Æternus that the authority to decide all questions on matters of faith pertains absolutely to the FULL AND SUPREME JURISDICTION of the POPE, which Pastor Æternus defines as a “total fullness of supreme power”. Therefore it pertains to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff to judge whether an opinion is a new heresy, or one that has
already been the subject of an infallible judgment by a Pope or council. Such decisions are reserved in the final instance to the pope, to whose authority it pertains to DETERMINE THE CHURCH’S JUDGMENT WITH FINALITY.

Objection 2: « If an ‘imperfect council’ presumes to judge a true and validly reigning pope guilty of heresy, the pope as supreme judge possesses the right and the power to overrule the council and judge the matter with infallibility and finality.»

Salza & Siscoe Reply to Objection 2 : « Not if his jurisdiction were “removed by God” (i.e. he is ipso facto deposed), the moment the council convicted him of heresy. At that point, he would no longer be Pope, and hence would no longer be the “supreme judge” with “the right and power to overrule the council.”»

Commentary: The silliness of this absurd proposition is already evident from what has been set forth in my comment on the previous reply. It is SOLEMNLY DEFINED in Pastor Æternus that the authority of the bishops exists in HIERARCHICAL SUBORDINATION to the FULL AND SUPREME JURISDICTION of the POPE.
A selfappointed “council” lacks all authority to “convict” a valid pope of heresy, because it pertains to the FULL AND SUPREME JURISDICTION of the pope that he can overrule the judgment of his subjects by an act of his FULLNESS OF POWER. By his TOTALFULLNESS OF SUPREME POWER, the pope possesses the
FULL AND ABSOLUTE JURISDICTION OVER ALL COUNCILS as was defined by the Fifth Lateran Council. A
selfappointed “council” has no power to “convict” a true pope, because the “council’s” judgment is null and void without the pope’s confirmation: IT LIES WITHIN THE POPE’S FULL AND ABSOLUTE JURISDICTION TO QUASH THE JUDGMENT OF ANY SELFAPPOINTED “COUNCIL”.
Objection 3: « No council can arrogate the power to itself (1) to nullify or suppress the pope’s right of primacy to judge the case as the supreme, final, and infallible judge, and then (2) presume to arrogate to itself the supreme power to judge the pope’s opinion heretical with finality, and (3) command the pope with coercive juridical force to submit to the judgment of the Council.»

Salza & Siscoe Reply: « In reply to (1), the council does not suppress the Pope’s right to judge matters of faith; it “convicts him of heresy” for denying an already defined dogma, and Christ strips him of his supreme jurisdiction.»

Commentary: It lies EXCLUSIVELY within the FULL AND ABSOLUTE JURISDICTION of the PRIMACY TO JUDGE WHETHER OR NOT AN OPINION OPPOSES AN ALREADY DEFINED DOGMA. The proposition that asserts the right of a selfappointed “council” to “convict” a valid pope of heresy DIRECTLY OPPOSES THE

Ballerini most explicitly teaches the opposite of what Salza & Siscoe say he teaches: «The same primacy exists in every Pontiff who is true and legitimate, even if because of ambiguous circumstances it is not ascertained who among the contenders is the legitimate and true pope. This ignorance could indeed excuse those whose due efforts do not arrive at a true Pontiff in reality invincibly unknown to them; but as simple ignorance impairs no right, and cannot impair him who is a true and legitimate Pontiff, albeit unknown to others, accordingly it does not nor can it grant any right over him even to an ecumenical council: undoubtedly the right of the primacy always remains in reality with a true and legitimate Pontiff, who always, being superior to the whole Church and whatever council by this right of the primacy, is removed from the jurisdiction of those others. »1

Ballerini explains further, “(I) Thus St. Cyprian writing in Epistle 73 Ecclesia una est, & super unum qui &claves ejus accepit, Domimi voce fundata, judges Peter to have received from Christ the keys of the Church, or Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but the words of Christ themselves mean that the keys were not handed over to the Church, since after the words Ecclesiam meam he did not say to her, but TO THEE I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”2 St. Alphonsus taught in his answer to the Febronians:
“They say that Christ granted the keys also to the other apostles, saying: Amen, dico vobis, quæcumque alligaveritis super terram , erunt ligata et in coelo : et quæcumque solveritis super terram, erunt solutaet in coelo. Matth. 18. 18. But what stands in the way if this? We have already said above, the apostles received immediately from Christ a power indeed equal, and which Peter received, as the first founders of the Gospel; but all of them were subject to Peter as the head, and chief, as all the Fathers proclaim.”

Ballerini continues: “Ecclesiastical jurisdiction takes its origin from Christ, who immediately handed it over to St. Peter and the Apostles, when he gave to them together with the keys of the kingdom of heaven the power to bind and loose, which power is the same as jurisdiction; and for which reason these are of divine right. This power or jurisdiction was immediately handed over to St. Peter and the
Apostles for the building and good of the Church; and was given before Christ ascended into heaven, and (I) before the Church was built by the same Apostles: thus it cannot be said to have been given

immediately to the Church, so that Peter and the Apostles had received it from the Church, who received it from Christ himself as the words of the Gospel testify.”4
Cardinal Manning explained, “It is de fide, or matter of faith, that the head of the Church, as such, can never be separated, either from the Ecclesia docens, or the Ecclesia discens; that is, either from the Episcopate or from the faithful.”5 THAT THE CHURCH CAN BE SEPARATED FROM THE POPE IS PRECISELY
THE HERESY OF JOHN SALZA AND ROBERT SISCOE. They received this heresy directly from the writings of John of St. Thomas. Manning then continues, «To suppose this, would be to deny the perpetual indwelling office of the Holy Ghost in the Church, by which the mystical body is knit together; the head to the Body, the Body to the head, the members to each other; and to “dissolve Jesus*” [* St. John iv. 3,
“Omnis spiritus qui solvit Jesum,” &c.]. » The Cardinal then concludes, “On this unity all the properties and endowments of the Church depend; indefectibility, unity, infallibility. As the Church can never be separated from its invisible Head, so never from its visible head.”6 This is so, Gregory XVI explains:
“Because he is the head and father of all Bishops even when they are congregated, as the Chalcedonian Council names him in its letter to St. Leo: Summitas tua filiis quod deest adimpleat. IV. Because he has the right to propose, establish and authorize the norm of true belief, that is, because, as St. Thomas says, ad ipsum pertinet editio symboli, and he is the only one, with whom not to gather is to be dispersed, and with whom not to agree is the same as declaring oneself a follower of the Antichrist, as is
rightly expressed by Saint Jerome, who wrote to Saint Damasus: Quicumque tecum non colligit, spargit:qui tecum non est, Antichristi est.” 7

Ballerini explains that judges of a lower rank are subject, by their nature, to judges of a higher rank, without thereby ceasing to be true judges; thus Bishops are subject to the Pope without ceasing to be judges in their own dioceses, as the Pope is in the whole Church. Thus, they are not independent judges, but subordinate judges according to the divinely instituted hierarchical subordination (non tamen independentes, sed subordinati, ea scilicet hierarchica subordinatione): “This subordination,
while it excludes juridic equality between the inferior and the superior, since it is generally that the inferior, who is subordinate to the superior judge, cannot deliver a legitimate sentence against his judgment: then the more it is that the bishops subordinate to the supreme Pontiff, to whom Christ granted the proper authority for the purpose of guarding unity especially in faith, cannot issue definitions in disagreements concerning faith, […] without doubt that compliance of mind, which yet
from the bishops themselves, even when they act as judges, to the divine as well as supreme authority founded on the promise of Christ is to be shown in hierarchical subordination.” 8

Thus, on the basis of the supreme authority of Christ they must remain in hierarchical subordination even when acting in the capacity of judges and thus, they do not have the power to deprive the Pope of his authority to judge, nor may they impede his right to pronounce a definitive judgment, since this power is his by DIVINE RIGHT. Therefore: «One priest or Bishop must be recognized in the Church, with
whom all must be in communion, in order that schisms be impeded, and to whom all adhere together in the unity of faith, so that the entrance of heresies may be stopped; and that in him and by him the unity of the whole Catholic Church may be protected. This one priest or Bishop, cannot be any one Bishop of particular churches, who would have authority only over his own flock, but is the Roman Bishop, the one
high priest, to whom the whole Church, and the unity of the whole Church is committed. » 9

Thus Ballerini explained that power which exists in the episcopacy, is according to its nature an essentially different power which is hierarchically subordinate to the absolute power of the primacy.

Therefore Ballerini explains: «Against a certain Pontifical right there is actually no power of a general council: since on account of the same right, which is not from the electors, or from the Church, but is granted immediately by God, a true Pontiff, superior to the whole Church, and also to general synods (as we have proven), is removed from the jurisdiction of all the others inferior to him. Indeed for this reason
the machinations and actions of the Baselensians against Eugene IV, the true and certain Pontiff, were able to accomplish nothing to depose him, and deflected them into open schism.» 10

The theological basis for the solemn definition of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff was formulated in the two works of Ballerini which I have quoted in these comments. The opinions of Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, Suárez, Billuart, Laymann, etc. on papal deposition are all contrary to that solemn definition of the Primacy. Those opinions have been unanimously abandoned by all theologians and canonists.
Journet was a lone exception who cautiously and ambiguously expressed his dissident opinion in support of John of St. Thomas’s heretical ,deposition theory. The pope possesses a “total fullness of supreme power” (Pastor Æternus) and therefore a “full and absolute jurisdiction” (Vacantis Apostolocæ Sedis), for which reason he cannot be judged by any power on earth. Against the heresy that the pope can be judged by anyone, Fr. E. Sylvester Berry quotes St. Robert Bellarmine: «The Roman Pontiff is not
subject to any power on earth whether civil or ecclesiastical. This follows of necessity from his position as supreme head of the Church, which is subject to no authority save that of Christ alone. “Being supreme head of the Church, he cannot be judged by any other ecclesiastical power, and as the Church is a spiritual society superior to any temporal power whatever, he cannot be judged by any temporal ruler. Therefore, the supreme head of the Church can direct and judge the rulers of temporal powers,
but he can neither be directed nor judged by them without a perversion of due order founded in the very nature of things” [St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Ch. 26]. This doctrine is taught by the Fathers and incorporated in the canons of the Church: “The first See is judged by no one”
[Canon 1556]. A synod of bishops held in Rome in 503, to investigate charges against Pope Symmachus, declared that “God wished the causes of other men to be decided by men, but He reserved to His own tribunal, without question, the ruler of this See.” » 11

Bellarmine devotes an entire chapter (lib. ii cap. xxvi) to prove the thesis that, “The supreme Pontiff is judged by no one” and he categorically states therein that, “the Roman Pontiff cannot be judged by anyone on earth.” 12


«9. Since therefore in the body the head governs and rules over all the members; thus the Pope governs and rules the whole Church. … [Ed But if the pope does not govern the members united in a council:]
So the mystical body of the Church will be a monster, while it has two heads. But the limbs without a head are nothing but a severed body; how then can the council be a whole body and represent the Church without its head the Roman Pontiff? And how can it be called a general council without the head, when in the same First Council of Nicea it was said: Councils must not be celebrated without the judgment of the Roman Pontiff? Whence then wrote Pope St. Damasus (Epist. 2. Ad Steph. Et Conc.
African.): By none of the bishops are the decrees to be given force, to which the Roman Pontiff has not granted approval, and before all his judgment is awaited: nor are any councils considered to be brought together, which are not supported by the Apostolic authority. And St. Athanasius (Epist. Ad Felic. II.) It is sanctioned by the canons, that without the Roman Pontiff nothing in major cases ought to be determined. And in fact in the Nicene II Council under Hadrian I. in the year 781 with the concurrence of
350 bishops, the preceding Constantinopolitan Synod was censured, and for what reason? Because it did not have the Roman Pontiff cooperating . . . in the manner that must be done in synods. Act. 6. The same happened to the Ariminensian Council, although it had 400 Fathers. The same happened for the Ephesian Council II. in the case of Eutyches, because Pope St. Leo did not accept it. […] [p. 180] 14. But let us see the intrinsic reason for this, why the Pope is superior to the councils. The reason is, because the government of the Church is purely monarchical, so the head of the Church has no other superior or equal. It is already known that there are three kinds of government: democratic, in which the supreme power is in the people; aristocratic, in which the power is in the elected ministers; monarchical, in which full power is all in the head alone. Everyone agrees that the monarchical government is the most
perfect: The optimal rulership, wrote S. Thomas, of the multitude, is that it be ruled by one: for the peace and unity of the subjects is the end of rulership: the more apt cause of unity is one, than many.
And then he concludes: It occurs that questions are brought up concerning matters of faith: but the Church would be divided by the diversity of opinions, unless it would be conserved in unity by the judgment of one: […] [p. 181] 15. Catholics on the other hand uniformly say that Jesus Christ, leaving this world, left the supreme power of the Church to St. Peter and through him to all his successors; so taught St. Thomas in the aforementioned passage, where, after saying that the monarchical government is the
best of all, he adds: Whence Christ said: And there shall be one fold and one shepherd. St. Antoninus writes the same (p. 3. Tit. 22. Chap. 2. §. 3.) saying that Christ, having constituted the Pontiff his vicar, established the monarchical power in the Church. And so everyone says; and Jean Gerson writes that he is a heretic who would pertinaciously deny to the Pope the monarchical state: The Papal state supernaturally and immediately instituted by Christ, as having the monarchical and regal primacy in the
ecclesiastical hierarchy, according to which unique supreme state the Church militant is said to be one under Christ: which state anyone presumes to contest, or diminish, or equate with some other particular Ecclesiastical state, if he does this pertinaciously, he is a heretic, a schismatic, impious, and sacrilegious.
He falls into heresy so many times expressly condemned from the beginning of the Church until today;both by Christ’s institution of the preeminence of Peter over the other Apostles, and by the tradition of all the Church in its sacred utterances and general councils. Gers. Tract. de Statib. Eccl. Cons. 1. [p. 186]
But here is the clear reason given by S. Antoninus (part. 13. Tit. 2. S. 3. Chap. 3.) For which it cannot be appealed from the Pope to a council: Because the Church has unity from the unity of the head; whence (John 10.) Christ says: there shall be one fold and one shepherd. If it would be licit to appeal from the Pope, the Pope would not be the head, but there would be two heads. [p. 189] Furthermore, the Fathers
of the Roman Council under Pope Symmachus said: The Pope is the supreme pastor, subject to no judgment except in the case of heresy. Tom. 2 . Concilior. More St. Thomas in de Pot. q. 1st. to . 4. ad 13.
Writes thus: From the actions of the Council of Chalcedon it is deemed first, that the judgment of the synod is confirmed by the Pope: secondly that from a synod appeal is made to the Pope: thirdly, that from the Pope no appeal is made to a synod, as is had from the actions of the Council of Ephesus. […] [p.
193] But they cannot deny that this council, so that it has supreme authority, and is infallible by itself, independently of the Pope, it must be legitimate. And in order for it to be legitimate, it is not enough for it to be numerous of many bishops congregated together, since there have been numerous councils, such as the Milanese Council II. under Pope Liberius of 300 Fathers, the Ariminese under S. Damasus of
600 Fathers, the Ephesian II. under St. Leo of 280 Fathers, but with all that they have been censured by the Church; so in order that the council be ecumenical it must have all the necessary conditions, that is to say that it be uniform to the divine Scriptures, to the tradition of the Fathers, that it be convened by those who have authority over it, and that there be freedom in giving votes. Now, as doubt arises as to
whether or not these conditions coincided together in a council, there must necessarily be a judge who
decides it; and this cannot be other than the Pope: otherwise if anyone says that this judgment should be made by another council, the same doubt can occur in this second council, and so it could go on infinitely. [p. 194] This judge must therefore necessarily be the Pope, who is the head of the Church. [p.195] 23. I also ask: is the Pope in making this declaration and judgment, fallible or infallible? If it is fallible, this declaration of his is of little or no use; because, since his judgment is fallible, the doubt remains standing as before. If then we say that the Pope is infallible in this, then there is an eternal and
irremediable schism [196]. For in this case there would be two heads in the Church, both supreme, without there being a judge who can decide the doubts, given that the Pope and the council disagree between them. And how can it be said that by doing so God would have provided for his Church …? […]The Church will become a reduction of contrasts and schisms, without any way of ever sedating them.
For this reason St. Jerome said: For this reason one is elected among the twelve, so that being constituted as head, the occasion for schism will be removed. Lib. de Unit. Eccl. And saying that, it cannot be doubted that S. Jerome felt that the authority of this head was supreme and infallible; otherwise dissensions could never have been avoided, as writes St. Thomas … speaking of the Pope’s
authority: [p. 197] but the Church would be divided by the diversity of opinions, unless it would be conserved in unity by the judgment of one. St. Thom. contra Gentes lib. 4. cap. 76. […] otherwise as for the revealed truths we would have nothing firm, but the whole thing would be in contrast and confusion. […] And here be it allowed me to repeat the passage of S. Cyprian, who wrote: For neither from anywhere else have heresies arisen, or have schisms been born, than from there that the Priest of
God is not obeyed, and besides one is considered in the Church at the same time priest and judge in the place of Christ. Lib . 1 . Epist . ad Cornel. [p. 201] Furthermore, let us not doubt that when the bishops together with the Pope define some point of faith, then certainly the Holy Spirit assists everyone; but this does not take away that in such a council the Pope is the head, who defines the dogma that must be held, since all the authority of the council is already in the Pope. […] It is therefore not denied that the
Fathers of the general council are infallibly directed by [p. 202] the Holy Spirit, as the Pope is directed; but when? When they are united with the Pope in judgment, since in the Council of Jerusalem the Apostles were united with St. Peter. But when they are discordant and divided, then that council is no longer legitimate, nor can it be said to be anymore ecumenical; it is a severed body; they are limbs without a head, they no longer represent the Church; for the Church must have its head. […] It is answered that since the supreme power in the Church is one, and not two, if we do not want to give the
Church two supreme heads, when the bishops in the council participate in a common action with the Pope, it is not that their greater number becomes higher in authority to the Pope, and it does not even happen that then there are two distinct powers; but it is that then the same supreme power, which already before all resided in the Pope, extends to them, and becomes common; … »i 13

From this explanation of St. Alphonsus it becomes clear what the Roman Council under Pope Symmachus meant when it taught, “The Pope is the supreme pastor, subject to no judgment except in the case of heresy.” It cannot mean that a true and valid pope can be judged by his inferiors in the case of heresy, because then the supreme and infallible judge would be judged by an inferior and fallible judge. There would either be two heads judging against each other; or, if the council were to be considered supreme in such a case by way of exception, then the dogma which defines that the judgment of all disputes in matters of faith is reserved exclusively to the pope would be erroneous.
Thus, in accordance with the teaching of Bellarmine, Ballerini, St. Alphonsus and Gregory XVI all of whom based their teaching on the doctrine of Innocent III it would not be a true pope who would be

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