Of Apologetical Lawyers and Theological Laymen

By Laura Robbins

As lawyers, people like John Salza, Chris Ferrara, and the man behind the Introibo blog are used to researching. They can pick a pertinent quote out of a court decision and use it to argue well their case. They know how to use rhetoric in order to persuade a judge or jury to see their point. Their whole purpose is winning a case. What is the problem with this? Well, Law is not concerned with truth so much as judgements and justice according to cases already decided and current laws on the books. In fact, I have it on good authority that at law school, lawyers are taught that “law is ordinance of reason”, and if you try to argue for the use of “Right Reason”, you get cancelled by a Novus Ordo Catholic criminal law professor pushing Bob Dylan CDs. You see, modern American Law isn’t concerned with right or wrong, it’s concerned with winning the argument set before you and (as if you didn’t know) it’s infiltrated with a bunch of communists who only care about destruction, not about truth. 

The point to all of this is, Salza and Ferrara argue well for the R&R crowd, and Introibo argues well for the Sede crowd. They sound very convincing to their readers because they’re talented at persuading others. They are taken as authorities because others believe they have the ability to read and research well. The problem is, they argue wrongly because they all have a preconceived notion of what the Church is supposed to look like and they use that to circularly argue that the men they believe to be legitimate authority therefore must be. For more on this problem see “Snipe-Hunting for the Endangered Species Ecclesia Catholica.” 

Why do I bring this up? Well, Introibo has been at it again, arguing fallaciously and reasoning poorly. He wrote in his most recent post Contending for the Faith Part 5:

“As theologian Salaverri teaches, “On the mediate or immediate origin from God of the jurisdiction of Bishops. This question was raised in the Councils of Trent and Vatican, but it was not decided. Several authors with Victoria and Vasquez held that the jurisdiction was given immediately by God to the individual Bishops; but generally Catholic authors with St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez hold that jurisdiction is given to the Bishops immediately not by God but mediated through the Roman Pontiff. Pius XII teaches this opinion positively in the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, when he says: ‘But Bishops so far as their own diocese is concerned…are not completely independent but are subject to the Roman Pontiff, although they enjoy ordinary power of jurisdiction received directly from the Sovereign Pontiff himself.’ We think that his opinion is to be preferred.” (See Sacrae Theologiae Summa IB, [1955], pgs. 144-145; Emphasis [Introibo’s]).”

The problem with this is answered by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis (20):

“Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”;[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.” (Emphasis mine)

You see, regardless of what a theologian (even a well-respected one) commented, what the pontiffs say is not just “an opinion to be preferred”. The pope is actually writing to the theologians telling them, when Papa makes a decision, you listen! It’s obvious, he says, that the matter cannot be open for discussion any longer. Who cares what the ancients wrote. Who cares what a (or many) theologian(s) argued. I am the voice of Christ speaking to you and He has spoken! 

Now if the pontiff teaches something of faith and morals do we care to quibble about whether it technically amounts to heresy or some other theological censure? Introibo does. He, along with all modernists and protestants hate the word “heresy”. They sometimes seem to hate it with a passion. I wonder why that is?! But if someone is obstinately holding an opinion against Church teaching, well I call that heresy. I don’t stop to look up whether it’s officially been declared ex cathedra with all the right terminology (“declare, proclaim, define” etc.). I just know, if you don’t listen to Mother Church, I can call you a schismatic, if you’d prefer, but you’d still actually be a heretic for denying the supremacy of Peter and the requirement to believe whatever the Roman Pontiffs have heretofore taught. And that’s not just my opinion, that’s Church teaching, too!

Eric Hoyle follows truth wherever it leads, even if he can’t take pleasure in exposing the darkness. His latest well-written piece corrects the late Fr. Cekada’s errors arguing against the Home Alone position. Hoyle treats his subject with humility and his opponent with charity. We can all learn a thing or two from reading his work. I encourage you to do so.

9 thoughts on “Of Apologetical Lawyers and Theological Laymen

  1. A great reply Robert. Thinking like a Catholic using the tools supplied to us. That should confuse the “lawyers”, an honest answer by a layman following the command of “Catholic action” and protecting the faith.   God Bless Joseph M.

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    • Thanks, Joseph! But this response was actually written by my wife, Laura Robbins. She and I both think very much alike because we have the same Holy Father.

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  2. The question Introibo is referring to that was presented at Trent was brought to the Council by the Gallicanist faction. He is really stepping in it here because an actual DECISION was made on this very question, not once but twice, as noted by Msgr. Fenton at the time in the American Ecclesiastical Review. Even prior to this, Henry Cardinal Manning demonstrated in his work “The Pastoral Office” that it was the common opinion of theologians that the grant of jurisdiction came from the pope, not Our Lord directly. See below.

    Mystici Corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII: “As far as his own diocese is concerned, each [bishop] as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff. (June 29, 1943; DZ 2287).

    Ad Sinarum gentum, Pope Pius XII: “The power of jurisdiction which is conferred directly by Divine right on the Supreme Pontiff comes to bishops by that same right, but only through the successor of St. Peter, to whom not only the faithful but also all bishops are bound to be constantly subject and to adhere both by the reverence of obedience and by the bond of unity,” (Oct. 7, 1954).

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  3. Forgot to mention that Msgr. Fenton states in his article that when the decision on the bishops made by Pope Pius XII came out, Cardinal Ottaviani, who had just stated the opposite in a recent address, made a public statement reversing his position. That tells me they did not just think it was an opinion, and certainly Msgr. Fenton did not think so either.

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    • Great point, Teresa. Apparently it isn’t so cut and dry. I don’t know if you have been following alone with Introibo’s latest, but he says over there in the combox that Ottaviani wasn’t addressing the Church as the prefect, so it doesn’t matter. The guy is a Gallican, so far as I can see. He only wants to submit to the pope in matters that accord with his conscience.

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  4. So please tell me when Introibo received the status of an approved theologian from the Holy See? He is asking Catholics to believe HIM and not the words of a man (Msgr. Fenton, a papal chamberlain) who received an award from Pope Pius XII for his loyalty to the papacy? And most importantly he is asking them to believe him and not the teachings of Pope Pius XII? As Rev. A.C. Cotter S.J., writing in the 1940s reminds us: “Authority clothed with the necessary CONDITIONS is true authority. False authority makes the same claims although it lacks these conditions… AUTHORITY is not the last criterion of truth motive for certitude” (emphasis Cotter’s). Oh but I forgot, Modernists, successors of the Gallicanists, hate scholasticism so never abide by it.

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    • Well, I am not sure about any approval, but Introibo does tout that he’s been “taught” by a pre-V2 canonist, so I guess that means he doesn’t have to submit to the Pope. But this is all a ruse anyway. He just wants to keep the Teresa Benns witch-hunt going so he can evade the real issue at hand, namely, that Sedevacantists don’t have canonical mission from the Church, so they are not legitimate. He won’t touch that topic with a paschal candle.

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  5. Pingback: More Peace, Less Pugnacity: A Response to Introibo’s Addendum | Catholic Eclipsed

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