Does Honorius "Refute" Sedevacantism? NEW Fr. Cekada Articl1

Segnalazione di don Anthony Cekada

Does the Pope Honorius Affair Refute Sedevacantism?

THE MULTITUDE of theological errors and evil laws that have emanated from the Vatican II popes over the past fifty years — and that is exponentially increasing during the madcap reign of Bergoglio — has prompted many traditionally-minded Catholics to seek out ways to reconcile the notion of papal authority with the obvious destruction wrought by those in our day who claimed to wield it.
Sedevacantists like myself settled on the following explanation a long time ago: the very errors and evils officially sanctioned by the Vatican II popes demonstrate that they never truly obtained papal office (or authority) in the first place, and were therefore false popes. (For an explanation, see Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer)
Others — be they Novus Ordo conservatives, neo-traditionalists within the Vatican II establishment, or traditionalists of the Recognize-and-Resist (R&R) variety — shied away from this conclusion. They sought to reconcile “recognizing” the V2 popes as true Successors of Peter with simultaneously “resisting” them — minimizing any obligation to adhere to the teachings of the V2 popes, to observe their laws, or in practice, to submit to their authority.
To achieve this end and to negate the logical appeal of sedevacantism, the conservative/neo-trad/R&R camp sought to demonstrate two things:

  1. Since ordinary papal teaching lacked the “infallible stamp” that the rare ex cathedra papal pronouncement possessed, Catholics had no obligation whatsoever to submit or adhere to it. Ergo, you’re free to ignore Bergoglio’s (or for that matter, Paul VI’s) teachings and laws.
  2. Some popes in the past (Nicholas I, Vigilius, Honorius, Liberius, Celestine III, John XXII, Alexander VI) were heretics, but nevertheless were always recognized as true popes. Ergo, a pope can teach heresy and still remain pope — take that, wicked sedes!

This is old stuff that the “right” subjected to constant recycling, even before Bergoglio’s Laudato Sì, and it always manages to float back, like gas from the landfill. I refuted point (1) in section 1 of 9/11 for the Magisterium, as well as in the introduction to my recent article, The Errors of Athanasius Schneider. I have refuted point (2) in a variety of articles listed in section 3 of my sedevacantist primer — and in so doing, please note, I have always pointed out that it was the Protestants, the Gallicans, and other haters of papal authority who raised these charges of “papal heresy” and were roundly trounced by an array of Catholic dogmatic theologians.
For the conservative-neo-trad-R&R camp, however, the historical case that seems both to provide a refutation of sedevacantism and to demonstrate the validity of points (1) and (2) is the case of Pope Honorius. From this, we are supposed to draw by analogy a principle for a course of action vis-à-vis Bergoglio and all the Vatican II popes that will allow one to recognize them as popes, but never, ever submit to them.
I dealt with the case in my lengthy article on Bp. Schneider, but since Honorius always seems to pop up in discussions of papal authority, I’ve been asked to sum up my arguments as a separate article.

Emperor Heraclius

1. General Background. Pope Honorius I (625–638) reigned during the great controversy over the Monothelite heresy (=Christ had only one will, the divine). Around 634, he was approached by Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who was attempting to resolve the dispute and pacify all sides in order to please the emperor Heraclius. Honorius responded to Sergius with several letters dealing with the controversy. Their contents became public only after the death of Honorius, and led to his being accused, variously, of either being a heretic himself, or at least, of being soft on heresy.
In 681 the Third Council of Constantinople posthumously condemned and anathematized Honorius, together with several Monothelites, which condemnation was subsequently renewed by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 870. The condemnation subsequently made its way into the texts of some ecclesiastical oaths, and the Roman Breviary prior to 1570 portrayed Honorius as having been condemned for heresy.
Nevertheless, despite these condemnations, the Church continued to recognize Honorius as having been a true pope and true successor (albeit perhaps weak) of St. Peter.
Thus the facts in the story of Honorius that everyone agrees upon.

Points of contention!

2. Disputed Facts and Interpretations. But there are countless other facts and complications in this story that church historians and theologians do not agree upon, have interpreted in different ways and, generally, have been fighting over for centuries.
These disputed issues include: whether the texts themselves of Honorius’s letters really prove he was a heretic, or merely that he was “soft” in combatting heresy; how the term “heresy” is to be understood in the various conciliar condemnations, since at the time it did not always have the precise technical meaning it has today; whether the subsequent papal approval of the conciliar acts of Third Constantinople (necessary for their legal effect), approved the condemnation of Honorius for heresy properly speaking, or only cowardice; or whether some of the documents were or contained forgeries, a common problem during the era.
Countless other uncertainties like these muddy the waters, making it difficult not only to arrive at a clear and objective historical account of the Honorius affair, but also to tease out of these complicated events correct theological consequences.
Protestants, Gallicans, rationalists and others, especially in the 19th century, had no hesitations about their conclusions, of course, and they routinely trotted out the Honorius affair as one of their main arguments against papal authority in general, and papal infallibility in particular.

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