“He is to Be Accused by His Subjects.”—St. Isidore

“…there is an odd gnostic-myth floating around Catholic circles today that a heretic in the hierarchy can only be recognized by either a group of Cardinals or an obsolete battery of canonical trials. While it is true that the saints seem to delineate between “material heresy” (small points) and “manifest heresy” (obvious heresy) the latter is held by saints to be easily-identified by your average faithful lay-man or lay-woman living in sanctifying grace.  To believe secret wisdom on recognizing orthodoxy belongs to a shifty group of Cardinals is peak-gnosticism.  (Gnosticism is the old and tired heresy that only a certain group of “enlightened-elites” have access to “secret” divine-knowledge.)

“Rather, the Catholic Church has always taught you only need the true faith and blue-collar common-sense to identify a manifest heretic.  This means you do not need a group of Cardinals behind you with “an imperfect council” or canonists forming a “canonical trial” to recognize an obvious enemy of the Catholic faith.  (This is important because a manifest-heretic, by definition, ceases not only to be a member of the hierarchy, but even a member of the Catholic Church.)

“Although a “material-heretic” could historically be judged a “formal-heretic” only by a canonical trial, Fr. Paul Kramer asserts in his recent book that “any prelate can be judged for heresy by his inferiors” in regards to obvious (or manifest) heresy.  In other words, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck—it is a duck!  And, as such, “the duck” heretic must be avoided as a non-Catholic intruder (even if he purports himself to be part of the hierarchy) by your average member of the lay-faithful.  (The key-word here is faithful, as in catechized and orthodox.)”

Go read the rest HERE. Well worth your time. A man who is a public heretic cannot hold ecclesiastical office; he has in fact placed himself outside the Church, and you don’t need any sort of rank, degree, or office to be able to call it out. I’m reminded of an old Star Trek quote from the episode Conscience of the King:

Lenore: “Who are YOU to say what harm was done?”
Kirk: “Who do I have to be?”

11 thoughts on ““He is to Be Accused by His Subjects.”—St. Isidore”

  1. Could anyone direct me to a formal theological definition of Gnosticism? Catholic Encyclopedia calls it the belief that salvation is attained through knowledge. I think knowledge adds to the possibility of being saved, and is not the actual cause of salvation, which is only by dying in a state of grace. For example, the knowledge that X is probably the false prophet can assist one in not getting the mark of the beast, but this would not be some secret knowledge but rationally processing data that is publicly available that most of the public is hesitant to do so.

  2. My grandmother always said you didn’t have to stick your hand in a fire to know it’s hot. God gives us common sense and The Faith. Bergoglio is a heretic, and was before he became anti-pope.

    1. I think the confusion (where not intentional) is the difference between arriving at a personal judgment and taking some sort of official action. I can observe someone committing theft and therefore determine personally he is a thief, but I don’t have the authority to incarcerate him.

          1. No, it means a person could willfully teach heresy without being called out on it by an authority (even though the authority should call them out – that is a separate issue) and they would still be a heretic. Whether or not you are arrested and prosecuted for murder, you are still a murderer if you commit murder.

  3. If we, the lay faithful, are unable to determine if a thing is heretical, how can we be reasonably expected to avoid being heretics?

    That’s my response when I’m told that I have no standing to call the Argentinian a heretic.

  4. Our Lord’s descriptions of the relationship between shepherd and sheep described the necessity and reality of the sheep discerning the voice of the good shepherd from malicious false shepherds. I think he did that for a reason. It also helps me understand the survival and attitude of the orthodox.

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