Saint Robert Bellarmine…

…judges Francis’ idea on conversion of the papacy

  • Could the ship venture into the waves without a captain?

And if the necessity of a head existed, even in the days of the Apostles, to avoid schism, according to the argument of Saint Jerome against Jovinianus, how could the Church have survived if it was not infallible, with its numerous faithful? Could the ship venture into the waves without a captain? And could the flock graze without a shepherd? (Saint Robert Bellarmine. Sermon 12, Address on the antiquity of the Church)

  • Calvin attributes the high ecclesiastical power to a group

Calvin, on the contrary, in the work of the Institutes, Book 4, Ch. 11, pf. 6, attributes the supreme ecclesiastical power to the group elders, of which a bishop presides as a consul in a senate. And, moreover, in the same place, he teaches openly that the authority of the group of elders is greater than that of the bishop. To the people, Calvin attributes something, but less than the group of elders. (Saint Robert Bellarmine. De Controversiis, On the Roman Pontiff, Ch. VEnglish)

  • John Brentius grants the high power to the secular princes

Finally, John Brentius, in the prolegomen against Peter Soto, grants the supreme power to the best ones, that is, to the aristocrats, but he does not want them to be bishops, but rather secular princes, who he affirms to be the noblest members of the Church. (Saint Robert Bellarmine. De Controversiis, On the Roman Pontiff, Ch. V)

  • The truth proclaimed by a Doctor of the Church: neither the people, nor the secular and ecclesiastical princes claim the regime of the Church, but rather the Pope

However, all of the Catholic doctors agree on the following: that the ecclesiastical regime confided by God to men be, in fact, the monarchical, but temperate, moderate, as we affirmed above, by the aristocracy and by the democracy. Of this teaches principally the blessed Thomas Aquinas, in the fourth book of the Summa contra Gentiles, chapter 76, John of Turrecrem, in Book 2, regarding the Church, chapter 2, and Nicholas Sanderos, in the books regarding the visible monarchy of the Church. Insisting on what he states, we bring here four propositions that we defend with all of our strength. The first would be that the regime of the Church is not principally with the people. The second, that it is not with the secular princes; the third, that it is not together with the ecclesiastical princes, the fourth is that it is principally with the only high president and priest of the whole Church. (Saint Robert Bellarmine. De Controversiis On the Roman Pontiff, Ch. V)

…judges Francis’ idea on God’s love for sinners

  • The bad thief rejected the grace of God, and met his final doom

If any man wishes to know the power of the grace of God, let him cast his eyes on the good thief. […] Nevertheless, by the assistance of God’s grace, when the gates of heaven seemed shut against him, the jaws of hell open to receive, and the sinner himself as far removed as possible from life eternal, he was suddenly illuminated from on high, his thoughts were directed into the proper channel, and he confessed Christ to be innocent and the King of the world to come, and, like a minister of God, rebuked his fellow-thief, persuaded him to repent, and commended himself humbly and devoutly to Christ. […] On the other hand, in order to let us see the extent of human weakness, the bad thief is not converted either by the immense charity of Christ, Who so lovingly prayed for His executioners, or by the force of his own sufferings, or by the admonition and example of his companion, or by the unusual darkness, the splitting of rocks, or the conduct of those who, after the death of Christ, returned to the city striking their breasts. […] For if one thief cooperated with the grace of God in that last moment, the other rejected it, and met his final doom. (Saint Robert Bellarmine. The seven words on the Cross, Book 1, ch. VI)

…judges Francis’ idea on eternal condemnation

  • After death there is no place for repentance, and out of hell there is no redemption

And every reader of history, or observer of what takes place around him, cannot but know that the rule is for men to end a wicked life by a miserable death, whilst it is the exception for the sinner to die happily; and, on the other hand, it seldom happens that those who live well and holily come to a sad and miserable end, but many good and pious people enter, after their death, into the possession of eternal joys. Those persons are too presumptuous and fool-hardy who, in a matter of such import as eternal felicity or eternal torment, dare to remain in a state of mortal sin even for a day, seeing that they may be surprised by death at any moment, and after death there is no place for repentance, and out of hell there is no redemption. (Saint Robert Bellarmine. The Seven Words on the Cross, Ch. VI)

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