Once my conclusions were made public, the rumor that I was a dangerous monk, suspected of heresy, began to circulate. A reverend bishop, now cardinal, wrote to me these harsh words:
If we lived a few centuries ago, the theories expressed by your reverence would have given more than ample cause to hand you over to the fire of the Holy Inquisition. Additionally, it was soon given out that my ill-disposed ecclesiastical supervision was soon to intervene in order to foil my upcoming ordination to the diaconate.1 As a final resort, they attempted to invoke the monastic vow of obedience and discipline, in order to force me to abandon my convictions though I was aware of their accuracy. They contended that I was obliged to obey blindly and refrain from any further prying, since the right of examining matters of faith belonged to the supreme hierarchy of the Church. They also argued that, if I believed in the Apostolic Church, I was obliged to follow indiscriminately the canonical successors of the apostles. Nevertheless, the grace of the Lord permitted me to remain unshakeable in my convictions, holding fast to the maxim of Saint Irenaeus regarding the heterodox: They cannot demand of us to be their followers simply because they have apostolic succession. We must follow the good and break away from the evil successors of the apostles. 2
Truly, the Roman Catholic Church may have the typical apostolic succession due to the successive laying on of the hands of the bishops, but it does not have the true succession of faith and the apostolic teaching. Saint Papias praised this succession of faith of Rome's Christians during the second century with these words: "At every succession and at every place, all that is demanded by the Law, the prophets, and the Lord is kept."3
Once I made up my mind, nothing could convince me otherwise. Even when a priest, who has never ceased to speak about me with malice, addressed me publicly as an "ungrateful son of the Catholic Church," I did not hesitate to voice my scepticism on the compatibility of the title Catholic with Papism. For me, Papism is nothing but an "impious innovation"4 since "the true catholic faith belongs to the ancient and ecumenical Christianity."5 In retrospect, I considered myself more catholic than my own church:
Truly catholic is he who loves the truth of God, the Church, the body of Christ [...], he who does not favor anything else but the divine faith only and does not superimpose over her the authority of a single man, revering above all the ancient and unique faith. Furthermore, he shows contempt for this authority and maintains a steadfast and unshakeable bond with the true faith, fully determined to believe in nothing else except that which he knows to be decreed by the Church from the beginning of her journey.6 The world questioned how I, the least of the monks of the Saint Francis order, dared to judge my entire Church and condemn her as deluded together with all her popes, synods, and theologians. My response was simply to repeat Tertullian's words:
Any teaching that opposes the truth taught by the Church, the apostles, Christ, and God the Father, must be judged as erroneous.7
FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER 51. Every candidate for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church is obliged to swear officially, among other things, the following oath: “I believe unequivocally that the Church was built upon Peter, supreme leader of the apostolic hierarchy, and their successors” (Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum, Pii X.Actae Sanctae Sedis, II. 1910, 669-672. 2. St Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, Ch. 26. 3. St Papias (Eusebius, Eccles. Hist., IV, 22, 1-3). 4. Etymologically the term "catholic" is not compatible with those who separated themselves from the catholicity of the Church. 5. St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, XVIII, 5. 6. St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, XX, 1,2. 7. Tertullian, De Praescriptionibus Haereticorum, Ch. 21.
Page created: 20-5-2011.
Last update: 20-5-2011.