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Cassiciacum Thesis

Started by Strider3000, September 15, 2021, 11:04:11 AM

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I have some friends who have been persuaded by the Cassiciacum Thesis.
What is the take of the members of this forum?
Is anyone aware of any competent criticism of the thesis, or a proper English translation?




Quote from: Geremia on September 15, 2021, 11:51:16 AM
Quote from: Strider3000 on September 15, 2021, 11:04:11 AMa proper English translation?
The full scan is in the e-book library.
Here's the NMT of it: TXT, EPUB

Interesting... already Laurier's understanding of the term "ordinary magisterium" differs from the scholarly understanding of Dr. John Joy (see book I just uploaded).



Here's a more nicely formatted edition of the Cassiciacum Thesis by Des Lauriers, O.P.:
• French: ODT
• English DeepL translation: DOCX, EPUB


Bishop Sanborn talks about the thesis on The Thesis Show - Episode 1:


To answer the original poster's question: My vote is its wrong, although I am not everyone.

It seems to me that the thesis states that there is currently a man who is materially the pope but not formally, and this entails him retaining some rights (such as the right to our prayers for him as our pope; otherwise it would be stupid to say we have a duty to pray for him as such) but not others (almost everything else).
While I have sympathy for those bewildered and scandalized by recent pontificates, I think this thesis is wrong for at least the following considerations:

First consider the idea of proposing anything to be materially but not formally but still to be:
To be materially X is to have the material cause sufficient for X in it. To be formally X is to have the formal cause of X (and since this of necessity requires a corresponding material cause, to be formally X is to be actually X, is to be X).
With this background, the thesis can be restated: The material but not the formal cause for a pope is present, but still there is a pope.
I argue that if the material but not formal cause of a pope is present, there is no pope. But there is a pope, therefore the formal cause is present.
What do you call it when the material but not the formal cause is present for Holy Communion? Bread.
What do you call it when the material but not the formal cause is present for baptism? Water.
What do you call it when the material but not the formal cause is present for ordination? A man.
What is obvious is that you do not call any of these "materially sacraments" sacraments.
Consider another genus:
What do you call it when the material but not the formal cause is present for a man? A corpse.
And another genus:
What do you call it when the material but not the formal cause is present for a heretic? A material heretic. Does this change anything? No, because this manner of speaking is because the proximate subject of the thing, namely that which is the thing except for a certain privation, does not have a common name; as St Thomas explains in The Principles of Nature:
QuoteMatter is that in which the form and privation are understood, just as in bronze the form and that which is shapeless is understood. Still, "matter" sometimes designates privation and sometimes does not designate privation. For example, when bronze becomes the matter of the statue, it does not imply a privation because when I speak of bronze in this way I do not mean what is undisposed or shapeless. Flour, on the other hand, since it is the matter with respect to bread, implies in itself the privation of the form of bread, because when I say "flour" the lack of the form of bread is signified.
From this, I conclude to be "materially X" but not "formally X" is not to be "X".
And this is because anything constituted from a plurality of principles is not unless all the principles are.
St Aquinas On Being and Essence:
Quote...the existence of a composed substance is not the existence of the form alone nor of the matter alone, but of the composite itself; and essence is that according to which a real thing is said to be. Whence it is necessary that the essence, whereby a real thing is denominated a being, be neither the form alone nor the matter alone, but both, although the form alone in its own way is the cause of such existence.
21. We see the same in other things which are constituted of a plurality of principles, namely, that the real thing is not denominated from one of these principles alone, but from what includes both, as is evident in the case of tastes. Sweetness, for example, is caused by the action of what is hot dispersing what is moist; and although heat in this way is the cause of sweetness, a body is not denominated sweet from heat, but from the taste which includes what is hot and what is moist.
So anything which is constituted of a plurality of principles cannot be said to be unless all the principles are present. Now the thesis posits a plurality of principles for the pope and claims one is not present. But it then posits the pope is still present. So the thesis is false.
Just to be clear, I absolutely affirm there is a pope.
Pastor Aeternus, Chapter II:
QuoteIf then, any should deny that it is by the institution of Christ the Lord and by Divine right, that Blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the Universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy; let him be anathema.
So I argue that the formal cause is also present.

Second, consider the definitions of the material and formal cause of the pope given:
QuoteSince in this case "being Pope" is a question, we must distinguish two meanings:
"to be pope" only "materially" [materialiter], i.e. to occupy the Apostolic See;
to be Pope also formally [formaliter], that is, to exercise authority in the Name of Christ in the Catholic Church.
I think it highly questionable to say that the matter for the pope is "occupation of the Apostolic See" as opposed to something along the lines of "a Catholic man". If the Apostolic see is an office, we can then ask what does it mean to "occupy" an office - as men usually speak, it means to exercise the powers of the office. But that is what is posited as the form of the Papacy, so then one or the other is false; but the whole argument rests on application of these definitions.
And to be clear on why the material cause is poorly defined, a material cause is either prime matter or a subject, and "to occupy" is neither of these.
St Thomas, On the Principles of Nature:
Quote... for each existence there is something in potency. Something is in potency to be man, as sperm or the ovum, and something is in potency to be white, as man. Both that which is in potency to substantial existence and that which is in potency to accidental existence can be called matter: for example sperm is the matter of man and man is the matter of whiteness.
3. But these differ, because that which is in potency to substantial existence is called the matter from which, but that which is in potency to accidental existence is called the matter in which. Again, properly speaking, that which is in potency to substantial existence is called prime matter, but that which is in potency to accidental existence is called the subject.

Third, consider the question: what are other historical instances of a material but not formal leader?
Annas and Caiaphas? For the See of Moses was a foreshadowing of the See of Peter, and these were High Priests. Consider the description which the author gives for determining that the formal cause is not present for a pope:
Quote[Any man cannot be a pope formally if] he did not have the real and effective purpose of promoting the divine Good...
Just replace pope with High Priest. And it seems clear that Annas and Caiaphas did not have the purpose of promoting the divine Good. But what did Jesus instruct the multitude to do?
Matthew Chapter 23:
Quote[1] Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, [2] Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. [3] All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.
Obviously this should be understood with a Catholic sense, but this is distinctly different from saying they do not have jurisdiction because they did not have the See of Moses formally because they did not have the purpose of promoting the divine Good.

As a final consideration, I find it ironic that the paper invokes the patronage of St. Augustine, who had a much easier means of deducing which body a person should join himself to as a member subject in order to serve God.
St Augustine, Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus, Chapter II:
QuoteFor in the Catholic Church - not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith)— not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself.
We see:
The consent of peoples and nations...Her authority!...The succession of priests, beginning from the very seat of Peter...The name of Catholic...
The thesis seems very contrarily disposed to all these notions.