Monday, March 08, 2010

APPENDIX E Papal Heretics, the Bible, and Galileo

As we have noted, heresy brings automatic excommunication. Even one papal heretic, if he were not restored by repenting of his heresy, would break the line of alleged apostolic succession back to Peter. As we have shown, there were many popes who were accused of heresy by other popes and by the councils, and a number were formally excommunicated.

Pope Adrian VI (1522-3), who personally pronounced Pope Celestine III (1191-8) a heretic, declared that John XXII was only one in a long line of papal heretics.

A Long Line of Papal Heretics

Among the earliest known heretics to sit on Peter's alleged throne was Liberius (352-66). Forced into exile because of a quarrel with the emperor, Liberius was offered repatriation if he would denounce Athanasius, who had led the fight against the Arian heresy. No stickler for doctrine, Liberius obliged the emperor and thereby sided with those who said that the Son was less than the Father-an opinion which the Church has consistently denounced as heresy of the worst sort.

Heretical popes came along quite regularly. Innocent I (401-17) and Gelasius I (492-6) proclaimed that babies went straight to hell (not Purgatory) if they died, though baptized, before receiving communion.

After all, if one takes John 6:53 literally-"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you"-as Catholicism teaches, then these popes were correct. That view was condemned as heresy by the Council of Trent.

During the last two years of his pontificate, Sixtus V (158590) rewrote the entire Latin Bible, adding phrases and sentences at whim, leaving out entire verses, changing the titles of the Psalms, and inventing his own system of chapters and verses. In a Papal Bull Aeternus Ille (an allegedly infallible declaration on faith and morals to the entire Church), he declared by "the fullness of Apostolical power" that this new "translation" of the Bible must be "received and held as true, lawful, authentic and unquestioned in all public and private discussions, readings, preachings and explanations." Anyone who disobeyed was to be excommunicated.

Of course, when the clergy saw the pope's astonishing handiwork, which instantly had made obsolete the Council of Trent's approved Latin Bible and all textbooks based upon it, they were horrified. Fortunately, Sixtus died a few months later and a cover-up was devised by Bellarmine. As de Rosa explains:

A Bible had been imposed with the plenitude of papal power, complete with the trimmings of excommunication, on the whole church-and it was riddled with errors. The academic world was in turmoil; Protestants were deriving enormous pleasure and amusement from the predicament of the Roman church.

On 11 November 1590, Bellarmine returned to Rome.... Personally relieved that Sixtus, who had wanted him on the Index [of forbidden books and authors], was dead, he feared for the prestige of the papacy.... Bellarmine advised the [new] pope to lie. Some of his admirers have disputed this. Their task is formidable.

The options were plain: admit publicly that a pope had erred on a critical matter of the Bible or engage in a cover-up whose outcome was unpredictable. Bellarmine proposed the latter.

Bellarmine and a group of dedicated scholars sworn to secrecy went to work and in about six months corrected the past pope's errors. A new edition of the "Sixtus Bible" was published as though it were merely another printing of the same, and a massive effort was made to recover the original copies of the heretical publication, which were then destroyed. As one would suspect, a few copies escaped the search and have been preserved (one in the Bodleian Library in Oxford). These "Bibles" constitute one more proof that popes are not infallible and that to maintain this lie the Church is willing to tell other lies as well.

Galileo and the Inquisition

Further evidence, if it were needed, that popes are not infallible is found in the tragic/comic case of Galileo. In defense of Church dogma, Pope Urban VIII (1623-44) threatened an elderly and very ill Galileo with torture if he would not renounce his claim that the earth revolved around the sun. Declaring that this belief was contrary to Scripture, the pope had Galileo on his knees, in fear for his life, recanting of this "heresy" before the Holy Office of the Inquisition! The geocentric view remained official Catholic dogma for centuries, with infallible pope after infallible pope affirming it: The earth was the center of the universe, and all heavenly bodies, including the sun, revolved around it.

It was not until 1992 that the Vatican, after a 14-month study, finally admitted that Galileo had indeed been right. That admission was at the same time an acknowledgment that the many popes who had affirmed that Galileo was wrong were themselves fallible creatures capable of making false interpretations of Scripture. Yet Vatican II reaffirmed the dogma that only the magisterium led by the infallible pope may interpret Scripture and that all the faithful must unquestioningly accept their interpretation.

No wonder Vatican II limits its endorsement of biblical inerrancy to matters of faith and morals! It states, "The books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures." A Knights of Columbus edition paraphrases this section thus: "Hence the Bible is free from error in what pertains to religious truth revealed for our salvation. It is not necessarily free from error in other matters (e.g., natural science) [emphasis in original]." Apparently the God who created the universe and who inspired the Bible doesn't know natural science!

The magisterium, which claims to be infallible and the only interpreter of Scripture, is obviously far from infallible and must therefore have an excuse for the scientific errors it makes. Thus it puts the blame on Scripture. In denying individuals the personal, moral responsibility of heeding God's Word (rather than what some hierarchy says about it), the Roman Catholic Church clings to the last vestiges of authority which it once exercised over the lives and consciences of all men and governments.

No comments: