“The unbelief of heretics, who confess their belief in the Gospel and resist that faith by corrupting it, is a more grievous sin than that of the heathens, because the heathens have not accepted the faith in any way at all. Hence, the unbelief of heretics is the worst sin.” – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, Q.10, art.3, ff; art.6
WHAT IS HERESY?
“Heresy consists in a stubborn denial of truths which have been defined an proposed by the Church as divinely revealed doctrines.” (Canon 1324-1325 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law)
WHAT MUST WE BELIEVE?
“By the divine and Catholic Faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written Word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal magisterium, to be believed as divinely revealed.” (Vatican Council I, Denzinger 1792)
We can also quote St Vincent of Lerins (from his Commonitory written circa 434) in his admonition to the Faithful of how to find the true Faith. In the aftermath of the suppression of the Arian heresy in the fourth century St Vincent encountered some difficulties in ensuring people knew and practised the true Faith because of the doctrinal confusion that still followed from that heresy. He, therefore, asked himself and others: “How and by what sure and, so to speak, universal rule shall I be able to distinguish the truth of the Catholic Faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity?” The answer, adduced both from himself and from other very learned and holy men of the time, was everywhere the same: “We must, the Lord helping, fortify our belief in two ways: By the authority of the Divine Law. By the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all, from the beginning.” He further asked: “What if some novel contagion seeks to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole Church?” The answer was: “It will be his (i.e. the individual’s) case to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any brand of novelty.”
THE DIVINELY REVEALED TRUTHS ABOUT SALVATION.
- Our first parents in Paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment.
- Through sin our first parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God.
- Our first parents became subject to death and to the dominion of the devil.
- Adam’s sin is transmitted to his posterity, not by imitation but by descent.
- Original sin is transmitted by natural generation.
- In the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies, as well as of the preternatural gifts of integrity.
- Souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific Vision of God.
- The Son of God became man in order to redeem men.
- Fallen man cannot redeem himself.
- The God-man Jesus Christ is a high priest.
- Christ offered Himself on the Cross as a true and proper sacrifice.
- Christ by His sacrifice on the Cross has ransomed us and reconciled us with God.
- Christ, through His passion and death, merited award from God.
- After His death, Christ’s Soul, which was separated from His Body, descended into the underworld.
- On the third day after His death, Christ rose gloriously from the dead.
- Christ ascended body and soul into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
- Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception for salvation.
- The justification of an adult is not possible without faith.
- Membership of the Catholic Church is necessary for all men for salvation.
The last three dogmas are denied by the post-Vatican II Church and every single so-called traditional sect. In denying these dogmas they deny the whole of the Church Doctrine regarding Original Sin, the necessity of the Incarnation and Redemptive Sacrifice of Our Lord God, Jesus Christ.
There is no such thing as the ‘traditional Catholic faith’; there is the one true Catholic faith which you either accept and are a Catholic or deny and are a heretic.
THE PRINCIPAL HERESIES OF THE GNOSTICS, MANICHEANS, PURITANS, AND TO A GREATER OR LESSER EXTENT EVERY OTHER RELIGION OTHER THAN CATHOLICISM.
They all deny the dogmas:-
- All that exists outside God was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God.
- God was moved by His goodness to create the world.
- The world was created for the glorification of God.
- The Three Divine Persons are one single, common principle of creation.
- God created the world free from exterior compulsion and inner necessity.
- God has created a good world.
- The world had a beginning in time.
- God alone created the world.
- God keeps all created things in existence.
- God, through His Providence, protects and guides all that He has created.
The so-called ‘traditional’ sects and sedevacantists are also heretical in their puritanism. I hope to devote a whole post to this topic later.
HOW MANY TRUTHS DOES A CATHOLIC HAVE TO DENY TO BECOME A HERETIC?
It suffices to deny one divinely revealed truth of the Catholic Faith to become a heretic and place oneself outside the Church (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, Q 5, Art. 3.). As St. Jerome put it “If you wander off the track a bit, it makes no difference if you veer to the right or to the left, the important thing is that you are not on the right road.” – Commentary on St. Matthew.
WHAT ARE WE TO THINK OF CATHOLICS WHO SUPPORT HERETICS?
Those who support heretics come under the condemnation of the IV Lateran Council which declared that “Those who give credence to the teachings of heretics, as well as those who receive, defend, or patronize them, are excommunicated.”
Further he who to support heresy distorts the Sacred Scriptures from their genuine and true meaning is guilty of the greatest injury to the Word of God; and against this crime we are warned by the Prince of the Apostles: “There are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they also do other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (II Peter 3:16 Cf also Council of Trent, Decree on Edition and Use of the Sacred Books,” Session IV, DNZ:786
The 1917 Code of Canon Law affirms that Catholics have a duty to reject error and heresy and all that works against the faith in the following words: Canon 1325.1 – “The faithful are bound to profess their faith openly whenever under the circumstances silence, evasion, or their manner of acting would otherwise implicitly amount to a denial of the faith, or would involve contempt of religion, an offense to God, or scandal to the neighbor.”
St. Francis de Sales on this point tells us that “It is our duty to denounce as strongly as we can heretical and schismatic sects and their leaders. It is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is among the sheep, wherever he is.” – Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 29.
WHY DOES GOD PERMIT HERESY?
St. Paul says: “There must be heresies, that they also who are reproved may be made manifest among you” (I. Cor. ii, 19).
CAN HERESY DESTROY THE CHURCH?
No! The Church is by her very nature indefectible. Her adversaries cannot overcome her. We have the assurance of Christ that the Church will never be totally destroyed as he clearly states that “the gates of Hell will no prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Yet this promise of indefectibility is not given to any person (this includes the Pope), state or country but only the Church as whole. For this reason did St. Athanasius say that even if the Church were reduced to handful of people, if they hold to tradition, they would be the true Church, since holding to the deposit of faith and rejecting it is what makes the difference between being a Catholic and being a Heretic.