Lately there seem to be a lot of so-called “Traditionalist Catholics” who want to debate with us. Their main point of contention seems to be all of the popes since Pius XII. Their argument is that all the popes from John XXIII to Francis were or are illegitimate. They want proof that these popes are legitimate.
The response to this is simple. John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis were all validly elected. That is the first proof that all the popes since Pius XII were/are valid. For further proof we must turn to Scripture.
In Matthew 16 Jesus promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church. If a Roman Pontiff can teach error in his official capacity as Shepherd of the Universal Church, then Jesus was either wrong, or a liar. Both options are impossibilities.
For hell not to prevail against the Church, the Church must do what Jesus said He came to do. The Church must testify to the truth. If at any point the Church teaches error, then hell has prevailed. But we know that hell can not prevail. So the Church must always teach only what is true.
Jesus made Peter and his successors the supreme heads of His Church. As the supreme head of the Church, the Roman Pontiff must always teach truth when acting in his official capacity as Shepherd of the Church Universal. The Roman Pontiff must also be teaching matters of faith and morals which affect the entire Church. He must also intend on making an infallible teaching.
Traditionalists deny the validity of the present Pope, and his last five predecessors. On what grounds they deny their validity is not entirely clear to me. They always say these popes have changed Church traditions. It’s significant to note, however, the lower case “t”. Traditions with a small “t” can be changed. It is Sacred Tradition (with a big “T”) that can not be changed. Sometimes Traditionalists make reference to the popes since Pius XII changing Church Teaching. Up to this time, however, I have yet to see one infallible Teaching that any Roman Pontiff has ever changed when acting in his official capacity as Roman Pontiff (called an ex cathedra statement).
So, based on the evidence, I would have to disagree with the Traditionalists. In addition to no pope ever changing Church Teaching, there is the promise of Jesus. That, in fact, is the strongest evidence in support of John XXIII and his successors. Jesus promised hell would never prevail against the Church. This means that the Church, as established by Jesus Christ, must remain intact and infallible. That is just one of the reasons I am not a “Traditionalist Catholic”, but simply a Catholic.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity