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Why are Skojec & Siscoe Afraid of a Conclave Investigation by Cardinals?

The Catholic Monitor received a comment from Steve Skojec today that was puzzling.

But before I respond to it I want to say I like Steve. In our few correspondences by email he has been a gentleman. I pray for him and his important work. I have recently been a bit worried about him because lately he has started multiplying disparagements for what someone is calling the "Skojec Little Book of Insults."

Below is the comment I received from Steve:

1 comment:
  1. You know, Fred, research isn't that hard. I'm not claiming it as infallible. That would be absurd. What I said in my actual post, which was only 471 words long and wouldn't have taken that much time to read, is:

    "I am posting this today as a point of reference. I see a lot of argument over what “universal acceptance” means, but it’s much simpler than people think. And if the explanation of John of St. Thomas is correct — and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t — then we can see that Francis was universally accepted."   []
I am puzzled because Skojec wrote "You know, Fred, research isn't that hard. I'm not claiming it as infallible. That would be absurd."

Here is what he wrote in the pertinent part of the post:

"This is why the Church teaches that it is infallibly certain that a pope universally accepted is the pope. Francis was universally accepted — as Robert Siscoe said, this isn’t mathematical unanimity, but practical universality. John of St. Thomas explains what universal acceptance consists of:
'All that remains to be determined, then, is the exact moment when the acceptance of the Church becomes sufficient to render the proposition de fide. Is it as soon as the cardinals propose the elect to the faithful who are in the immediate locality, or only when knowledge of the election has sufficiently spread through the whole world, wherever the Church is to be found?
I REPLY that (as we have said above) the unanimous election of the cardinals and their declaration is similar to a definition given by the bishops of a Council legitimately gathered. Moreover, the acceptance of the Church is, for us, like a confirmation of this declaration. Now, the acceptance of the Church is realized both negatively, by the fact that the Church does not contradict the news of the election wherever it becomes known, and positively, by the gradual acceptance of the prelates of the Church, beginning with the place of the election, and spreading throughout the rest of the world. As soon as men see or hear that a Pope has been elected, and that the election is not contested, they are obliged to believe that that man is the Pope, and to accept him.'"
"I am posting this today as a point of reference. I see a lot of argument over what “universal acceptance” means, but it’s much simpler than people think. And if the explanation of John of St. Thomas is correct — and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t — then we can see that Francis was universally accepted."

The problem is that Steve says "if the explanation of John of St. Thomas is correct" and he assumes it is correct thus infallible, but the only proof he gives is the John of St. Thomas quote.

Skojec in his post writes:

"This is why the Church teaches that it is infallibly certain that a pope universally accepted is the pope.

But then tells me at the Catholic Monitor:

"I'm not claiming it as infallible."

Why is he saying "the Church teaches that it is infallible" then saying "I'm not claiming it as infallible"?

Moreover, Skojec in the post says to go to Siscoe's website which says that what Steve is saying is "de fide" (if John of St. Thomas's explanation is correct which Skojec assumes is correct thus it is de fide or infallible) which means "doctrines of the Church which are infallibly true" according to the dictionary.

Here is the pertinent part of the Siscoe piece on his website:

John of St. Thomas’ Treatise on the Peaceful and Universal Acceptance
       The brilliant Dominican theologian, John of St. Thomas, wrote a lengthy treatise on the peaceful and universal acceptance of a Pope, in which he explains that the legitimacy of a Pope, who has been accepted as such by the Church, is de fide – that is, it must be accepted with the assent of faith.  He also discusses the conditions required on the part of the electors, and on the part of the one elected, and how we can have certitude that they were satisfied.
       After defining his terms,[6] he begins his treatise as follows:

"In the present controversy we discuss whether or not it is de fide that this specific person, who has been legitimately elected, is the Pope and the head of the Church, as well as the degree of certitude with which this proposition is to be held."  

He then provides his answer:

"Our conclusion is the following.  It is immediately of divine faith that this man in particular, lawfully elected and accepted by the Church, is the supreme pontiff and the successor of Peter, not only quoad se (in himself) but also quoad nos (in relation to us) —although it is made much more manifest quoad nos (to us) when de facto the pope defines something.  In practice, no Catholic disagrees with our conclusion [that his legitimacy is de fide], even though, when he considers it as a theoretical question, he might not think that he believes it with divine faith. (…)"
[read this whole article here]

The problem is that Siscoe didn't get his "peaceful and universal acceptance" idea from a pope or council, but from a generally good, but a not necessarily infallible theologian John of St. Thomas.  Here is the important part of the quote from John of St. Thomas: 

"[T]his man in particular, lawfully elected and accepted by the Church, is the supreme pontiff."
(, "Peaceful and Universal Acceptance of a Pope," 2-28-19 and 3-13-19)

This bring us to the renown historian Warren Carroll statement:

"A Papal claimant not following these methods [which is the conclave constitution of a previous pope] is also an Antipope."

Catholic historian Carroll explicitly says that what matters in a valid papal election is not how many cardinals claim a person is the pope or universal acceptance unless it was a lawful election as prescribed by the last pope. 

What is essential for determining if someone is pope or antipope is the "election procedures... [as] governed by the prescription of the last Pope":

"Papal election procedures are governed by the prescription of the last Pope who provided for them (that is, any Pope can change them, but they remain in effect until they are changed by a duly elected Pope)." 

"During the first thousand years of the history of the Papacy the electors were the clergy of Rome (priests and deacons); during the second thousand years we have had the College of Cardinals."

"But each Pope, having unlimited sovereign power as head of the Church, can prescribe any method for the election of his successor(s) that he chooses. These methods must then be followed in the next election after the death of the Pope who prescribed it, and thereafter until they are changed. A Papal claimant not following these methods is also an Antipope."

"Since Antipopes by definition base their claims on defiance of proper Church authority, all have been harmful to the Church, though a few have later reformed after giving up their claims."

Even John of St. Thomas agrees with Carroll when he said as quoted by Siscoe:

Besides "acceptance" a valid pope needs to be "lawfully elected."

That's the problem with Skojec's and Siscoe's John of St. Thomas selective mantra about "universal acceptance" while ignoring his "lawfully elected" part of the quote.

This is why Bishop Rene Gracida's call for a cardinal investigation is important. 

Bishop Gracida is saying what Pope John Paul II's conclave constitution says about the question of if Francis was "lawfully elected" or not: only the cardinals can investigate it and interpret it.

Siscoe, Skojec, canon lawyers or John of St. Thomas can't interpret it, John Paul II's constitution prescribes that cardinals interpret it.

Finally, I ask Siscoe and Steve to specifically answer if Francis was not "lawfully elected" then does a "peaceful and universal acceptance" overturn a unlawful election?

More importantly, why are Siscoe and Skojec apparently so afraid of a investigation by cardinals since they continually ignore or avoid addressing the subject by the "universal acceptance" mantra?

I ask both to please give a specific answer to why they are apparently so afraid of a investigation.

Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church and for Catholics to not just bemoan heresy, but put pressure on the cardinals to act as well as for the grace for a cardinal to stand up and investigate and to be the St. Bernard of our time. 

In fact, please offer Masses, fast and pray the rosary for these intentions during Lent and after the Lenten season.


Debbie said…
Thank you. Clear and concise, without snark...and with Catholic charity.
MEwbank said…
Mr. Skojec and Mr. Siscoe, actually, are abusing the authority of John of St. Thomas.

The latter's reflections assuredly presuppose due process or fulfillment of all juridical requisites before and within a papal election as a condition so that assent to its results may be given.

Instead of adverting to this, Mr. Skojec and others on his site 'beg the question' to be demonstrated.

It is not whether apparent universal assent the recent election has occurred, but rather whether such really could occur IF there were true violations of stipulated regulations currently effective in governing papal elections.

There are definitely reasonable questions that have been raised based on documentation of acts and failures by several parties in the last conclave.

To reject these considerations requires establishing that said acts and failures did not occur or that they did not, in any way, violate the stipulations governing a valid election.

However, neither Mr. Skojec and his devotees on his rather illogical site, nor others who should do so, have done this thus far.
Neofito said…
just a theory:
bshp schneider is, for sure, a "controlled opposition" (the vatican pays to him!)

Could be that Steve could be similiar case?

they are getting the "sedes" theme all-the-way and this is eroding the "pope position" in the people mind's
Fred Martinez said…
I wholeheartedly disagree. I think both Steve and Bishop Schneider are sincerely expressing what they believe to be true without "pay."
Unknown said…
The problem is clear. He was not “legitimately elected.” It was a con game. A bunch of “mafia” Cardinals manipulated and pulled off or stole the seat of Peter. We even have their admittance to the crime. “Usurped it” is the phrase given in prophesy. Also, who says it was “universally accepted?” Steve Skojec? I stopped reading his stuff the minute he flipped his opinion and now blames all the others for sticking to what he once believed. People can make their own well thought-out decisions. And in the slight chance he happens to be an actual pope, it certainly could not have been by the help of the Holy Spirit.

All the prophesies point to this time in the Church. It’s not hard to understand.

I'm surprised to read this objection and can only conclude that you haven't read Siscoe's article. What he shows throughout is that the universal acceptance of a pope is an infallible "sign" that he is the true Pope, and therefore also an infallible sign that all the conditions required for him to have become Pope were met. The acceptance of a Pope by the Church is what proves that the requirements were met. If they weren't met, the man would not have been accepted as Pope by the Church. This is the main point Siscoe is driving home in the article, and he does so with numerous quotations from multiple authorities.
John F. Kennedy said…
Thanks. I've making this argument for years. I'm glad others are making the point too.

Things to consider;
Was Jorge Bergoglio eligible? Can someone who is / was latae sententiae excommunication become "a" Pope?
- Examine his publicly know positions and actions while in Argentina.
- We know he was part of the St. Gallen group before and after the 2005 Conclave, a group which conspired to elect someone from their number, a violation of Universi Dominici gregis.
- He openly fought and disregarded a number of thing under B16.
- He continued to be part of and conspire with the St. Gallen group just prior to the 2003 conclave.

During the the 2013 conclave:
- on the fourth ballot of March 13, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan achieved the required number of ballots. This vote count was improperly annulled. He was already on the way to the balcony when the told him that they were going to nullify the vote. This nullification was broke the rules of Universi Dominici gregis.
- Universi Dominici gregis allows only 4 ballots in one day. Jorge Bergoglio was elected on the 5th ballot.
- Universi Dominici gregis specifies excommunication for those breaking the conclave's secrecy. "Bergoglio, on being elected Pope, felt that the threat of excommunication – which falls on any cardinal for revealing what happened in the conclave – no longer affected him and related to the journalist the things that happened within the Sistine Chapel.”

You can read about some of these things here,
John F. Kennedy said…
Please excuse the typos. Next time I won't try to write so much on a smart phone.
Fred Martinez said…
Have you read article?

You are ignoring where in the article John of St. Thomas is quoted saying besides "acceptance" a valid pope needs to be "lawfully elected."

The multiple of authorities are minor figures including John of St. Thomas who is not a saint or even a blessed. If Siscoe can find a pope, council, Doctor of the Church or even a saint then the article would have some authority.

Why can't Siscoe find a real authority to quote?
Dolores said…
Many felt it as they saw him for the first time on the balcony. We could not have known what we are learning now.
Steve said…
Hi Fred,

I can't escape the feeling that in most of the cases where people are making the claims that Benedict is still the pope, there is a serious issue with misunderstanding something that is written.

In the case of my comment, when I said I wasn't claiming it as infallible, what I meant was that I was not claiming the instruction of John of St. Thomas as infallible. The reason is because you said, in your March 20th post:

Steve Skojec has been apparently claiming John of St. Thomas's idea on "universal acceptance" of popes is infallible Catholic doctrine.

My quote from John of St. Thomas was meant to help explain what Universal Acceptance consists of, because it appears that a number of people actually think that if, at some point after a pope's election, any handful of Catholics begins to question his legitimacy, this somehow nullifies Universal Acceptance.

This is obviously absurd. Universal Acceptance happens at the time of election. If the cardinal electors present a man as validly elected, and there is no protest about the election, it has been accepted. Some appear to extend universal acceptance to all the bishops of the world when they receive news of an election (which would have happened much more slowly in years gone by than it does today) but nevertheless, with Francis, we had not the protest of even one bishop -- including Bishop Gracida, who seems now to favor your ideas enough to reprint them.

You go on to quote me saying, “This is why the Church teaches that it is infallibly certain that a pope universally accepted is the pope.”

And then you ask: Why is he saying “the Church teaches that it is infallible” then saying “I’m not claiming it as infallible”?

I am claiming that when a pope is universally accepted, the Church offers infallible certainty about his legitimacy. This is why it is called a dogmatic fact, and it comes from more than just John of St. Thomas. St. Alphonsus talks about this when he says:

“It is of no importance that in past centuries some Pontiff was illegitimately elected or took possession of the Pontificate by fraud; it is enough that he was accepted afterwards by the whole Church as Pope, since by such acceptance he would have become the true Pontiff.”

Your blog is making me split this in two, so, this is 1 of 2.
Steve said…
Now, 2 of 2:

The words used by theologians to explain this phenomenon is that any defect in an election is, by the power of this universal acclamation, "healed in the root."

You can find further support of the idea of this infallibility -- known as a "dogmatic fact" -- in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, which states:

The following questions involve dogmatic facts in the wider sense: Is Pius X, for instance, really and truly Roman Pontiff [1909], duly elected and recognized by the Universal Church? This is connected with dogma, for it is a dogma of faith that every pontiff duly elected and recognized by the universal Church is a successor of Peter.

It goes on, saying that while theological dispute continues over the nature of dogmatic facts, all parties agree that that the Church is infallible in such definitions:

the definitions of dogmatic facts demand real internal assent; though about the nature of the assent and its relation to faith theologians are not unanimous. Some theologians hold that definitions of dogmatic facts, and especially of dogmatic facts in the wider acceptation of the term, are believed by Divine faith. For instance, the proposition, "every pope duly elected is the successor of Peter", is formally revealed. Then, say these theologians, the proposition, "Pius X has been duly elected pope", only shows that Pius X is included in the general revealed proposition that "every pope duly elected is the successor of Peter". And they conclude that the proposition, "Pius X is successor to Peter", is a formally revealed proposition; that it is believed by Divine faith; that it is a doctrine of faith, de fide; that the Church, or the pope, is infallible in defining such doctrines. Other theologians hold that the definitions of dogmatic facts, in the wider and stricter acceptation, are received, not by Divine faith, but by ecclesiastical faith, which some call mediate Divine faith. They hold that in such syllogisms as this: "Every duly elected pontiff is Peter's successor; but Pius X, for example, is a duly elected pontiff; therefore he is a successor of Peter", the conclusion is not formally revealed by God, but is inferred from a revealed and an unrevealed proposition, and that consequently it is believed, not by Divine, but by ecclesiastical faith. It would then also be held that it has not been formally defined de fide that the Church is infallible in the definition of dogmatic facts. It would be said technically to be theologically certain that the Church is infallible in these definitions; and this infallibility cannot lawfully be questioned. That all are bound to give internal assent to Church definitions of dogmatic facts is evident from the correlative duties of teacher and persons taught. As it belongs to the duty of supreme pastor to define the meaning of a book or proposition, correlatively it is the duty of the subjects who are taught to accept this meaning.

You can see the original article here:

So the point I was making -- the point you missed -- is that while I was not claiming that John of St. Thomas's definition of Universal Acceptance was infallible, I *AM* claiming that a pope universally accepted *IS* infallibly certain. The former is the opinion of a very learned theologian with no magisterial authority; the latter is a consensus view of theologians and long understood, if not formally defined, by the Church.

I intend to continue to explore Church teaching on the matter because it would not surprise me at all if there is some formal definition that would aid us here, but that I have simply not found it yet.
John F. Kennedy said…
Steve, you keep stating "duly elected" but then ignore that critical phrase. Based on Universi Dominici gregis he wasn't duly elected therefore using what you wrote it doesn't matter who "accepts" him.
Fred Martinez said…
Thanks Steve for your response and respectful tone. I want you to know that I will reply in a post probably later in the week because I want to think through what you said and I have a alot on my plate at the moment.
Mr. Martinez,

Yes, I have read the article more than once.

I don’t know why you say Siscoe of only citing minor authorities. He quoted Pope Martin V from the Council of Constance, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church, the esteemed Cardinal Billot, who is recognized as one of the most imminent Thomists of the first half of the 20th century, Fr. Sylvester Berry and Monsignor G. Van Noor, two of the most respected theologians of the mid 20th century, the renowned 18th century canonist and consultant to the Holy See, Lucius Ferraris, and John of St. Thomas, who is a towering theologian of post Tridentine era. Read what Catholic encyclopedia has to say about him.

Have you thought of sending Siscoe an e-mail and asking to comment on the point you raised about the election being lawful? I would love to hear his answer.
Fred Martinez said…
Please read Steve Skojec's comment above. He admits there is no "formal definition" from the Church.

If you see a direct quote in the Siscoe article from Pope Martin please let me and Steve know about it.

Siscoe's quote of St. Alphonsus is problematic since he leaves out the second half of the quote.

Sorry, but the rest are minor.

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