Vatican 1 Dogma: If anyone then says that it is not from the institution of Christ the Lord Himself, or by divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of the blessed Peter in the same primacy, let him be anathema. This study proves how untrue this dogma and invalid this anathema or excommunication is.

Roman Catholic dogma says that the bishop of Rome is the pope, or the head of the Church and Jesus has fully authorised that rank. Roman Catholic doctrine says that St Peter was the first pope for he was made the rock that the Church was built on by Christ and given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. They say these keys stand for the authority of the pope to decide how sins will be pardoned in confession among other things, these keys stand for the power to bar you from Heaven by excommunicating you. The Church adds that Peter was told that whatever he bound on earth would be bound in Heaven and whatever he loosed on earth would be loosed in Heaven so he has the power to make laws in the Church and to go against them is to go against God. Absolution outside the Catholic Church is regarded as invalid everywhere except where there is danger of death. So it is a very serious disaster if you follow the wrong pope for you won’t be able to really get rid of your sins in confession. If the Church is right that a true pope cannot lead the Church into heresy for Christ promised that the gates of Hell would never prevail over the Church, then history must be lying to us for it tells us that at one time there were a number of claimants to the papacy who all had strong claims to be the real pope so that nobody knew for sure who the true pope was. Even today the Catholic Church has to resort to guessing and weak evidence to back up its claim that it knows who the true popes were. More of that in a while.

In the past there have been two or three men claiming to be the true pope at the one time and excommunicating each other and each others followers. Some Catholic apologists have come out with the incredible idea that at the time there were two or three popes, if you were a faithful Catholic and obeyed the man your conscience told you was the real pope you were not in schism even if you were wrong about who was pope! That is like the Society of St Pius X claiming that though it has bishops consecrated in defiance of papal authority and though it runs independent of the modern day pope it is not in schism! It is in schism, it is separated from the Church for it acts it. It has been excommunicated by the Vatican and even if that excommunication is null and void it has still resulted in two separate organisations. At the Western Schism, when there were at first two popes at the one time and then three each pope excommunicated the other as a heretic or schismatic or both and also threw the other pope’s followers outside the Church. Each pope took away the power of each others Church to forgive sins. In some cities, there was a bishop appointed by Pope Urban VI and another appointed by his rival Pope Clement VII. Where there is no schism there is unity, where there is no visible unity and people are disagreeing in such important matters there is schism. Urban VI and Clement VII led two similar but separate Catholic Churches one of which was not the true Church and one of which was. One of these Churches had the power to determine which of the many traditions in the Church were of divine origin. If the Church today traces its lineage through even one of the false popes that means that false tradition is in the Church and a fake pope’s decrees and teachings are considered to have authority.

If such a schism can happen then surely you can have a pope becoming a heretic and destroying or harming the faith. If such a thing can happen then popes are no use for they don’t have any legitimate authority over the Church. The Church has to depend on hearsay, speculation and being selective with evidence and only hearing what it wants to hear to come out with a title deed, a legal list of popes, to defend the authority of its pope and itself for if its rock has no authority it doesn’t have any either and is usurping it. The damage the Great Western Schism did to Catholic belief was incalculable. The next time it happens and it will be soon it will do worse damage for communications are better now. When Rome allows women priests probably half the Church will break away and create a new papacy to continue the tradition that women cannot be validly ordained. It will have a strong claim to be the real Catholic Church for tradition forbids female ordination. This schism will be irreparable for there will always be Catholics for and against female ordination. Many will admit they don’t know what to think and that they don’t know which of the two popes is the real one. When that happens more splintering will be inevitable, for when major schism takes place everybody starts breaking off factions off the Church.

In 1378, cardinals in Rome elected pope Urban VI. Urban showed signs of madness and soon they gathered in a new conclave and produced a rival pope, Clement VII. Today, the Catholic Church claims that Clement was not a true pope at all. A fake who claims to be pope is called an antipope. Back to Urban VI . He wasn’t mad all the time. He knew he shouldn’t stay on as pope and should have resigned in favour of Clement VII. Surely a pope who causes division and heresy like this and who is unsuitable must be considered an ex-Catholic who deposes himself from the papacy? It is ridiculous to say that a person who breaks from the Church becomes an ex-Catholic by excommunication and that a Catholic who causes others to break away or who keeps that kind of trouble up is still a true Catholic. Even if Clement wasn’t the true pope, Pope Urban VI could have conferred the true papacy on him.

All of the cardinals agreed that the election of Urban VI was invalid for they didn’t have any freedom during the conclave due to threats from a mob demanding a Roman or an Italian. The mob had even invaded the building they were in. The two rival popes caused the Great Western Schism and resulted in one Roman Catholic Church being led by Urban in Rome and another led by Clement VII in Avignon, France. Nobody knew then who the real pope was. St Catherine of Siena backed Urban and St Vincent Ferrer backed Clement VII. Both popes excommunicated one another and one another’s followers as well. Each Church claimed to be the true Church and that the other was a fake Church. They launched violent crusades against one another with a view to killing each other. The confusion was caused by the fact that the election of Urban was indeed carried out under threats of violence. In those times the idea of deposing a pope was very acceptable and the cardinals didn’t try that route though they didn’t want a schism. This indicates their sincerity, the election really was fiddled. They didn’t have to admit it and they did. Before they let Urban know he was pope, they presented a Roman in pontifical robes to the mob as their pope. This was strange for they knew the mob would go berserk if they thought they were being fooled. Was this the man they really elected? It certainly must have been the case. They changed their minds and lied about Urban being elected probably because they thought he would be a better political choice. The Church today says that if an election is fiddled the pope chosen is still a valid pope for God doesn’t want schism and God doesn’t necessarily like the new pope. They don’t believe this at all. If a female to male transsexual or somebody that had no intention of being a valid pope and who didn’t believe in it or if a plastic surgery copy of some papable person was made pope they would consider this an invalid election resulting in a fake pope no matter if the Church accepts them or not. So why should it be different if the election is invalid in the sense that the votes were fiddled? If acceptance by the Church is valid then why don’t they acknowledge Alexander V who was appointed when the Council of Pisa deposed both the Roman and Avignon popes as heretics and schismatics as a real pope when he had the most support and the Roman pontiff Gregory XII who they consider the true pope had hardly anybody? Didn’t the whole Church accept antipope Vigilius leaving the alleged real pope Saint Silverius in a dungeon without any followers or support? (page 125, Reasons for Hope). Today the Church regards Urban VI and his line as the real popes. They were not so the Church today is in communion with fake popes and so is schismatic and heretical. To follow the wrong pope is heresy for it means you believe in the wrong rock and regard the wrong man as shepherd and father and teacher of all Christians. Antipopes are not infallible so they are dangerous and since the supreme authority in Catholicism is tradition it follows that the wrong pope means separation from tradition and the means of its protection.

The history of the popes which reveals that many popes were really antipopes and which reveals how hard it was to discern the true pope from the false shows that the pope cannot be the mark of the one true visible Church of Christ at all. Roman Catholicism is not the one right religion. The list the Church has of popes has been produced by men who took sides. Even if you have evidence for one pope being real who is to say that the case for him is just based on hearsay and gossip and the case against his rival isn’t based on hearsay and gossip? Many antipopes took office after the deposition of the pope. If you disagree with the Catholic doctrine that the Church cannot depose a valid pope the whole thing gets far more murky and means that plenty of men rejected by the Church as antipopes were in fact real popes. What list you will accept will depend on your prejudices. However if you are biased towards reason your list will be drastically different to that of the modern Church. The number of papal disasters is too high to deny that the papacy is just a human institution.

The Church says that reason shows that the Church needs a simple marker to indicate that it is the true Church so that even the most uneducated person can see where the true Church is. But none of this papacy stuff is simple. Even the experts in the Vatican were wrong about who was pope and who was a pretender. So how then can the pope mark out the true Church?

To have a situation in which the true pope cannot be known and nobody knows which of two or more claimants is the true pope proves Catholicism is false because tradition is the supreme authority in Catholicism and the wrong pope means you have the wrong person telling you what divine tradition is. The true pope alone can have the means of working out what true tradition from God is and can have the power to protect it.


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