11 March 2022


A bishop in Puerto Rico has been summarily dismissed by PF. I find myself unsympathetic towards some of the views ascribed to that Bishop; but I am far more disturbed by the ecclesial and doctrinal  aspects of this episode. 

As Bishop Torres has said: "A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be due canonical process to remove a parish priest." Indeed so. I am continually irritated by repetition of the platitude that Vatican II enhanced the status of the episcopate, when simultaneously steps are taken diminishing the powers of diocesan bishops. Traditionis custodes sinned shamelessly in this way. 'Subsidiarity' and 'Parrhesia' may be favoured rhetoric, but they are far from being accepted praxis.

Perhaps we remember here the strong language rightly used publicly by Cardinal Mueller when three of his operatives in the CDF were dismissed without process by PF: H E pointed out that this was not how any organisation should treat its employees. Bergoglian 'Mercy' is less truly merciful than recognised 'good practice' within secular business systems.

Torres was asked 'informally' by the Nuncio to resign. This sort of way of doing business is a hall-mark of tyranny ... the sort of thing that goes on, I presume, behind closed doors in banana republics.

Torres was told that he "had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico." (1) We have here an autocratic model of papacy under which, apparently, a dissent from aspects of current papal policy counts as sackable disobedience to the Roman pontiff. How different this is from the exchanges recorded between Archbishop Errington and Blessed Pius IX, when Errington refused to 'do a favour' to Pio Nono! (2) Torres had been the sole dissentient voice with regard to a certain piece of policy desired by the rest of the Puerto Rico episcopate. Former, wiser, pontiffs set in place a normative provision to the effect that Episcopal Conferences need to be unanimous for their decisions to take effect. This is in accordance with Catholic ecclesiology.

I am reminded of a rumour which circulated when Mark Davis was nominated to Shrewsbury: it was to the effect that some English bishops had complained to Rome that Nuncio Mennini was creating an 'unbalanced' English bench of bishops. Individuals do sometimes need to be protected against collective bullying by an aging oligarchy.

Torres 'had his card marked' earlier for being unenthusiastic about sending his seminarians to a National seminary. Tight control of seminary training appears to be a standard method of tyrannical oppression ... the first big stick the bully reaches for. I recall that the Franciscans of the Immaculate had their seminaries suppressed in order to eliminate their charism and to smash the order up.

And, apparently, Bishop Torres has been less than enthusiastic about banning Catholic worship.

Torres has remarked that "in the Church where mercy is so much preached, in practice some lack a minimum sense of justice". It is true that before the dread Tribunal we shall all hope for Mercy rather than for Justice. But in this fallen world, juridical systems and concepts of 'rights' and codes of Canon Law exist to protect the individual from arbitrary injustice. In the Church, if Mercy is truly more powerful than Justice, well and good; I will not condemn PF for having promoted a paedophile bishop (now convicted and Doing Time) to a nice little office in Rome. But there is nothing well and good about any system on earth, even Christ's Mystical Body militant here in earth, where an individual is not even granted Justice.

The retired Argentinian Archbishop Hector Aguer summed it all up:

"As never before, Roman centrality is imposed in the name of unity. These positions make us yearn for the freedom that the great popes supported, supporting the episcopate that was committed to the growth of the Church, and the evangelization of those who were still outside it."

Bene dixti domne.




Matthew F Kluk said...

Perhaps another bishop who might help the work of the FSSP and SSPX?

Cosmos said...

So every single other prelate in the Church serves purely at the whim of the Pope?

- Could Peter have "fired" all the other apostles--or maybe just all the presbyters they appointed?

- If the Orthodox were to reunite with Rome, the Pope could simply depose all the Metropolitans the next day with a stroke of his pen and replace them with whomever he wanted?

- Or if the Cardinals and bishops were gathering at a council to censure the Pope in response to a heterodox statement, or some criminal action, he could just relieve them all of their duties on the way to their meeting, depriving them of the office that would give their statement authority?

I am a believer in the Petrine office, and papal supremacy, but it can't mean that, can it?

Stephen said...

Cosmos, given the evidence, what makes you think papal supremacy could ever have meant anything else? What check is there to "supreme, universal and immediate" jurisdiction? It's pretty plain and clear language. Smacks one in the face, frankly. And you MUST believe this, if I understand it correctly, in order to be intellectually honest when one receives communion (even though there is scant - none even - reference to such a faith requirement in the liturgical life of the Church).

Oh yes, a pope very well could choose to take a minimalist approach; but is there anything to prevent one from taking a maximalist approach? None. And all I ever hear in response is that faithful Latin-rite Catholics have to simply "tough it out" until a more reasonable Pope comes along.

Like all bad law, the mistake that is Pastor Aeternus will never go away until recognized. Kinda like the first step you take at an AA meeting.

motuproprio said...

JPII was more creative, translating an unorthodox bishop to a see “in partibus”.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

O, good Lord. Stephen thinks dogmatic truths can simply be vacated because sinful prelates.

What check is there to supreme...


Look, we know you hate the Catholic Church and all that it stands for but you also know that nobody takes your heretical schism seriously - especially when consequential and captious matters arise. Do you think even one Catholic thinks your communion has the answer to Catholic problems?

If you truly thought your heretical schism was the truth, you would not continue to badger those who believe otherwise.

Do you think even one of of us who regularly responds here is going around to protestant blogs/sites and badgering them?

No, we pray for them and let The Holy Ghost do His work of conversion.

By your actions, you illustrate you do not have true belief or confidence in your communion because you refuse to let others outside of your communion live in peace.

Ian Watt said...

Stephen - this relatively recent post by our host may be able to help you resolve some of the concerns you have raised: https://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2009/11/more-infallibility.html?m=1

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Strphen, your problem is thst you are an ultramontanist at heart. Ultramontanists dissent against the true nature of papal infalliblity and universal and immediate jurisdiction, ignoring tbe fact that there is such a thing as jurisprudence, and that thdte are moral principles that govern tbe exercise if even supreme - but not unlimited - power.


armyarty said...

Francis The Humblest (TM) is a cretinous bully.
If I were Bishop Torres, I would refuse to go, since the law of the Church is on his side. Some- including Torres- seem to think that the better course is to submit to the injustice, and "offer it up" He would be doing much more good were he to demand due process. So many have suffered injustice, theft, slander, and a hundred other bad things at the hands of this horrible man, that someone really needs to stand up to him! That would be a real sacrifice! From what I gather, one of Torres' crimes was a refusal to join in a letter that said Catholics had a duty to take the covid 19 vaccine! A vaccine made from stem cell lines harvested from an aborted baby! What supporters of PF fail to grasp is that the accusations he is making against Torres are themselves rank heresy! One a heresy of ecclesiology, holding that says a bishop is "not in communion with his fellow bishops" if he does not agree with their policy decisions, another, a heresy embodied in the false teaching that people do, in fact have a moral duty to cooperate with abortion, yet another that you have a moral duty to submit to some dangerous drug, yet another heresy that the Bishop is not the teacher of the faithful in his own diocese, and probably some heresies that I have not thought of. What, one might ask, would St. John Fisher make of all this! He was not "in communion" with his brother bishops, after all! The usurper is a tyrant, and must be opposed by someone in authority! Or, I predict that the ongoing slide of Puerto Rico into Congregational Protestantism will continue, and be further accelerated. Sometimes, you have to go to that place where you do not want to go- he will be vilified, but morally Torres will be justified. I hope that he makes the right choice.

Cosmos said...


You can still be supreme, as in higher than all the rest, without being above law and reason, and subject to God’s standards.

The Pope’s authority is limited, for example, by orthodoxy and morality- he has no power to command one to sin or apostatize. Jesus didn’t say that. Those are implicit limits on the grant of authority that flow from the Lord’s broader teaching. It’s not clear how it would be enforced, but all agree on this.

When authority comes from Jesus, the Word Of God, can’t we also assume that the grant does not include arbitrary or malicious exercises of power?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...


Exactly. You've summed up a cardinal principle of jurisprudence.


Stephen said...

AvB, I have been called many things, but this is a first! (a nice twist on the old adage that even the most protestant-sympathizing Roman Catholic becomes a flaming ultramontanist in conversation with Eastern Orthodox). To your points, I do not discount the importance of jurisprudence and moral principles in governing the exercise of power. What I am saying is that
1) Pastor Aeternus is a bridge too far in its elevation of Papal supremacy, universality and immediacy to the level of a faith requirement in order to be in communion;
2) PA's claims have no basis now, or ever, in the liturgical life of the Church in any rite, reducing its credibility to be a faith requirement;
3) it is axiomatic that the exercise, understanding and acceptance of Papal authority is still very much a work in progress (as evidenced, at the very least, by the consternation with the current holder of the Chair of St. Peter in Rome), further reducing the credibility of PA as a faith requirement.

coradcorloquitur said...

I concur totally with Armyarty in that Bishop Torres should resist Francis's tyranny---and perhaps set in motion a wave of episcopal protests against the abuses and heresies of this unworthy pope. I am convinced that nothing has done more damage to the Church, to the Faith, and to souls than the pietistic misrepresentation of obedience. It is a doctrine that, had not much of the Roman clergy been so self-serving, would have been taught correctly to every Catholic around the world as obedience to the Faith (as expressed in Scripture and Tradition and as clearly enunciated over millenia by the authentic magisterium) and not some unworthy, undignified, effeminate blind obedience to all that anyone in holy orders says, writes or preaches. A corrupt sense of obedience has been the devious tool of the destroyers of the Church and of the faith of Christ's "little ones." The sheep have "obeyed"---out of stupidity, cowardice, malformation in the Faith, or, in some cases, sympathy with the heretics. And the tragedy is before our eyes for all to see: the Church turned into a childish and twisted cult of personality and a refuge for unjust, evil men. Lukewarm indifference to doctrine and liturgy, bovine "respect" for bad shepherds, and a massive falling out from the True Faith have been the miserable results. Nothing in the Church will change for the better, I suspect, until this perversion of the great virtue of obedience is denounced and a Catholic understanding of it is energetically taught to the Faithful. What we are witnessing brings to mind the ominous words of Holy Writ: "An enemy hath done this."

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...


1) No it's not. It's revealed truth. But as you know doubt know, "abusus non usum tollit." Yes, if the pope lacked that universal and immediate jurisdiction, how could he oblige the faithful under pain of sin, to reject, say, the errors of Martin Luther contrary to, say, the dogmatic propositions on the eucharist?? He couldn't. This is where, in terms of universal, immediate jurisdiction, the rubber hits the road - faith and morals. Administrative/disciplinary matters are not necessarily so clear cut as matters of faith and morals. An errant discipline or administrative measure approved by the pope can be resisted with, so far as Divine Law is concerned, impunity.
2) See 1) re administrative/disciplinary matters.
3), See 1).

In general, sorry, but with truly unfeigned respect, you do indeed discount the importance of jurisprudence and moral principles in governing the exercise of power.

Most catholics (and as the recent COVID world-wide tyranny demonstrates, most people) simply have no idea of how the dictates of justice apply to governance in general (i.e., not only wrt the church, but also the state). This is really the problem, NOT Pastor Aeternus considered per se.


Albrecht von Brandenburg said...


Rem acu tetigisti.


PM said...

We might contrast this with Benedict XVI's deposition of the unfortunate Bishop Morris of Toowoomba, Australia, over the deficient sacramental theology he had been espousing.

Benedict acted after ordering a visitation by Archbishop Chaput, and went far beyond the demands of legal process by giving Morris a couple of hours of his time for a private meeting. His note on that meeting came out in Vatileaks and reveals Benedict as the generous and charitable pastor he was, not the rottweiler of vulgar prejudice: Morris, he concluded, was a dedicated pastor who meant well, but, sadly, his theological formation was inadequate for the office of bishop and the Church should find some other use for his gifts.

Benedict's concern for justice and charity is obvious. So also is his concern for the quality of the episcopate, which has also gone missing these days. Imagine the shock in episcopal palaces throughout the world at the suggestion that they should be sacked for theological incompetence.

Stephen said...

AvB, would you not agree that every bishop is endowed with the charism to "oblige the faithful under pain of sin, to reject, say, the errors of Martin Luther contrary to, say, the dogmatic propositions on the eucharist"? Or are you saying that only the Bishop of Rome is so endowed?

And, who is to judge, and how is to be judged, what constitutes merely "an errant discipline or administrative measure" by a Pope that the faithful can and should resist with impunity, and what does not? You can believe all you want that any such errancy is always and only strictly a disciplinary or administrative measure and NEVER one dealing with faith and morals because you know the Pope can't err regarding faith and morals, but this opens yourself up to having to enable an awful lot of errancy (see Rite of Pope St. Paul VI). You say that it is revealed truth; but the Church never saw fit, anywhere, at any time, to incorporate that belief into Her liturgical life, making that assertion rather less credible, unless one discounts "lex orandi, lex credendi" and the Vincentian formula of "believed at all times, everywhere, by everyone". Further, Eastern Orthodox are welcome to receive communion at any Latin rite Mass, yet we all pretty much reject the tenets of Pastor Aeternus. So, between this and the wide variance with which Roman Catholics understand and accept Papal authority (see Veterum Sapientia, Humane Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, reception of), it's almost as if Pastor Aeternus isn't really a faith requirement anyway. All pretty convoluted.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Stephen, this the typical sedevacantist understanding of papal (or indeed all) power, which once again, is ultramontane and positivist. We have the natural law, when assessing the moral/rectitude/prudence/justice of ANY superior's directives, not just ecclesiastical superiors generally, and not just the pope's. For example, there's natural justice, which consists of two rules: that against bias, abd the hearing rule ("audi alteram partem"/"hear the other side"). Praying these orinciples in aid against e.g., a defaulting ecclesiastical superior does not, as sedevacantists (who are really nothing but disappointed ultramontanists) would say, involve private judgement. The pope has a wide latitude for error, like the rest of us, he is on the hands of his own counsel, which, absent his invocation of the extraordinary magisterium, leaves him open to error of every sort every waking hour.


P.S. I am not saying that you are a sedevacantist.

PM said...

Here is more wisdom from Benedict XVI from his Mass of entronement in May 2005 (https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050507_san-giovanni-laterano.html):

'This power of teaching frightens many people in and outside the Church. They wonder whether freedom of conscience is threatened or whether it is a presumption opposed to freedom of thought. It is not like this. The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope's ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.'

Stephen said...

AvB, thank you for the polite postscript, but I certainly did not take to mean that you said I was a sedevacantist. What I am curious about is the turn of phrase "absent his invocation of the extraordinary magisterium". I assume you mean that there is a specific wording, as if in a rite, by which the Pope of Rome, from his chair acting as supreme legislator, declares a dogma infallible, correct? and that such a proclamation has only be used twice since Pastor Aeternus? Three final questions - what does that mean for faith requirements that were proclaimed by the Church before Pastor Aeternus - is there something to them that they did not go through this process? And, are only those faith requirements issued by a Pope of Rome, in RC ecclesiology, binding on RC faithful?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Stephen, it's not do much specific wording as specific form. In otger words, it's a matter of substance, not accidents. If I remember rightly, it is dealt with in Bishop Gasser's Relatio.