“…..the opinion expressed by some, (such as The Catacombs Forum), which asserts the necessity of an authoritative ‘judgment of the Church’ to resolve doubtful claims on the papacy, is quite absurd. Such a judgment of authority, in the absence of the authority of a certain pope, is a judgment that could not be made until a general consensus is first reached by means of private judgment which then becomes universal and thereby settles the doubt by reason of universal and peaceful acceptance. Without the doubt first being resolved in this manner, the doubt simply could not ever be resolved, since the judgment made by a doubtful authority would continue ad infinitum, unless there would already be a certain pope who can judge the question with authority and finality. It seems not to have occurred to those who posit the need for a judgment of authority to resolve the doubt, that if there exists a positive doubt about the validity of a putative pope’s claim on the papacy, that claimant’s jurisdiction is itself doubtful; and for so long as the doubt remains, there will be no certain authority on earth competent to rule on the question by an act of authority. Hence, in such cases when there is positive doubt about the validity of a claimant’s pontificate, the validity of the claim itself is doubtful, and therefore his jurisdiction is doubtful, and therefore the authority of his doubtful pontificate cannot be presumed valid: Papa dubius, Papa nullus. (A doubtful pope is no pope). In such a case when it cannot be determined that there is a certain pope, it is the general consensus of theologians, including St. Alphonsus, Ballerini, Bordoni, Pope Gregory XVI and many others who explain that the Apostolic See would be presumed vacant, and the interim authority would pertain to a Council to elect a pope. In fact, in such a situation, it is thus pronounced in the fourteenth session of the Council of Constance. The indefectibility of the Church guarantees that the Church will never err by universally rejecting the claim of a true pope and uniting to a false head.
“In the case of a manifestly pertinacious public heretic, the pertinacity itself is absolutely certain proof that the claimant is not a true pope even if he appears on the surface to have been validly elected and universally accepted. The opinion that such a one could validly occupy an ecclesiastical office directly opposes the Church’s teaching on the nature of heresy, as I have amply demonstrated in Volume One. Christ prescribed no directives to be observed in order to deal with a case of papal heresy; neither is there given in scripture or anywhere in apostolic tradition some precept for prosecuting and deposing a suspected pope-heretic who would still validly occupy the papal office, nor is there any law prescribing a procedure for expelling a pope who has fallen from office already by his heresy having ceased by himself to be pope; for which reason it is absolutely certain that divine law makes no allowance for a heretic to ever validly ascend to the throne of Peter, or for a valid pope to fall from the papacy because of heresy.”
Kramer, Paul. On the true and the false pope: The case against Bergoglio (pp. 179-180). Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition.
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