The following was found on the website of Michael and Peter Dimond.
What does Gerry Matatics hold?
MHFM [Dimond Brothers]: Gerry Matatics has communicated to us that he is in full agreement on sedevacantism and the salvation dogma. That is to say, Gerry holds the sedevacantist position and also agrees that it is the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that the Catholic Faith and the Sacrament of Baptism are absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions for “baptism of desire.” He said that he would send an endorsement of our book Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation, which he found to be the most persuasive thing he had read on the subject. A few months back (July 31, 2005) he sent us an e-mail which communicated his sedevacantist position, and his belief in the Church’s infallible teaching on the absolutely necessity of baptism. Below is a copy of that e-mail that he sent to us. He said that he was going to be expanding it and posting it on his website. The bolding in the second sentence of #4 is our own emphasis; the rest of the bolding is his own:
Dear Brothers Peter and Michael:
I am happy to supply you, as you requested in your e-mail of July 26, which I have now just read (I'm very behind with my e-mails, I'm sorry), with a statement of my convictions which you can pass on to your readers. Here it is:
1. I, Gerry Matatics, believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that the Catholic Faith is the one true Faith and that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, outside of which Church and Faith there is no salvation.
2. I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that any Christian, whatever his rank, who stubbornly denies or doubts even one single dogma of the Catholic Faith (such as, for example, the abovementioned dogma, "No salvation outside the Church") is thereby guilty of the mortal sin and canonical crime of heresy, and automatically excommunicates himself from the Church, thus abandoning the only path to salvation.
3. I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that the sacrament of baptism is necessary for salvation, since that sacrament alone makes one a member of that Church outside of which there is no salvation, liberal and wishful thinking and statements by fallible theologians and fallible catechisms to the contrary notwithstanding.
4. I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that because heretics are not members of the Catholic Church, they cannot validly hold office in the Church, according to divine law, and that, should they seem to hold such offices, the believing Catholic must conclude that their election to and possession of such offices is null and void. This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI, who has the further handicap (unlike his immediate four predecessors) of not even having been validly consecrated a bishop, which, in addition to all other considerations, makes it impossible for him to therefore function as Bishop of Rome.
5. In humiliation and shame I publicly ask Almighty God, and all persons who read these words, to forgive me for taking so long to work through all these issues and come to these conclusions. I exhort all those who profess to be Catholics but who would seek to differ from the abovementioned convictions to eschew all passion and prejudice, to resist all intellectual dishonesty and obscurantism, and to humbly, prayerfully, and courageously contemplate, and then wholeheartedly submit to, the infallible teaching of the Church on all these matters. If, after so doing, any should still disagree with me and feel that I am wrong in making the above affirmations, I exhort them not to engage in ad hominem attacks or campaigns of calumniation, but to honestly engage me in debate (written or oral, public or private, either with themselves or with some "champion" of their choosing) on these vital issues, upon which our salvation depends.
Our Lady of LaSalette, pray for us!
St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!
All you sainted Pontiffs, pray for us!
All you Fathers and Doctors of the Church, pray for us!
All you holy saints and angels, especially our patron saints and guardian angels, pray for us!
In the one true God -- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Commentary by Robert Sungenis:
As I said in a previous response to someone who asked about Gerry Matatics and his declaration that the last four popes (and the present pope) were not legitimate popes, Mr. Matatics is assuming authority to himself that he simply does not have, no matter how strong his convictions; no matter how many prayers to heaven he uses to substantiate his claims; no matter how many saints he calls upon for witness, no matter how many seemingly legitimate accusations he brings against the pontiffs of the Catholic Church.
In his previous notice warning us of his change in position, Mr. Matatics appealed to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen as the basis for his dramatic shift to sedevacantism with the following quote from Sheen:
"He [Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ. . . .But the twentieth century will join the counterchurch because it [the counterchurch] claims to be infallible when its visible head speaks ex cathedra" (Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1948, pp. 24-25).
What Bishop Sheen understood as the inevitable end of history is no secret. Scripture, the Fathers, the medieval theologians, the saints and doctors all understood the same about the end times. Thus, Mr. Matatics’ reintroduction of it in the words of Bishop Sheen is no new revelation. There is, however, one big problem with Mr. Matatics’ appeal to Bishop Sheen: Bishop Sheen was not a sedevacantist, never advocated sedevacantism, and never taught us to adopt it as a solution for the above apostasy. Likewise, none of the aforementioned Fathers, doctors or saints ever taught or prophesied that in the future the Church would be without a pope for almost half a century, or that a succession of popes claiming to be popes would not be legitimate popes. No one of repute in all of Catholic history has said such things, and thus there is no basis in Tradition for the claims of Mr. Matatics, the Dimond Brothers, or any other sedevacantist.
As of now, Mr. Matatics is little different than the “Here I stand” position of Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk who likewise accused the popes of formal heresy and disavowed them from being the vicars of Christ on earth. No matter what impression Mr. Matatics has been able to give to his followers, it has become quite evident that he simply does not understand the Catholic faith; or worse, he understands it but simply refuses to accept its teachings and its authority.
God did not put Gerry Matatics in charge of the Catholic Church. Mr. Matatics claims no vision, no revelation, no miraculous intrusion from God in his life to substantiate this new evaluation concerning our recent popes. The entire conclusion of the matter is strictly from the mind of Mr. Matatics, and like many who fell into error before him, Mr. Matatics dares to condemn to hell the popes of the Catholic Church by the sheer prowess of his own thinking abilities.
Unfortunately for Mr. Matatics, it is precisely because of the danger inherent in the thinking of imperfect and fallible individuals that the papacy was created and given the keys to the kingdom of heaven – to set aside those who arrogate authority to themselves and depend solely on their own cognitive abilities to usurp another’s authority. Never mind Mr. Matatics’ self-professed theological and spiritual convictions that he claims leads him to this extreme position. I can hardly think of any renegade the Church has confronted in the past who did not condemn the papacy based on what he understood as his “deep personal theological and spiritual convictions.” The road to hell is paved with deep religious convictions.
The dimension of theology and spirituality that Mr. Matatics has forgotten is Authority. Authority is just as important as doctrine. Unless one places himself under the Church’s authority, then he has no Catholic faith, no matter how loud he screams the opposite to his detractors.
Moreover, placing oneself under the authority of the Church does not allow one to pick and choose which authority one will accept. One cannot, for example, say that a pope from the past is one’s authority, but not a pope from the present. If not, the matter of authority becomes entirely subjective, and we are once again back to the Protestant dilemma. That cannot be. Either one accepts the papacy in toto or he doesn’t accept it at all. There is no in-between state.
If by personal conviction one believes a particular pope to be in error on a certain teaching, the history of the Catholic Church shows that there is room for popes to have erroneous concepts and questionable actions (Virgilius, Honorius, Formosa, John XXII, et al.), but at no time has the Church ever stated that those particular popes lost their office because of their errors. At no time has a pope, acting officially in his papal chair, ever been charged by another pope or council of formal heresy, let alone convicted of formal heresy. Thus, it is absolutely ludicrous that now, mere laymen, such as Gerry Matatics and the Dimond Brothers, seek to go beyond these historical limitations and indict not only one pope, but five popes in succession for what they themselves determine as formal heresy.
If one’s personal conviction leads him to voice an objection to a certain teaching by a particular pope, the pope’s own Canon Law allows us to voice those objections “to the pastors of the Church” and “to all the Christian faithful” (Canon Law 212, 2-3). Thus, Mr. Matatics and everyone else who wants to raise an objection to various papal teachings and practices have a platform from which to voice their opinion, and the Church allows them to do so, for the Church herself learns from her own parishioners.
But that platform in no way gives anyone the authority to take away the pope’s authority, especially if it is one’s design to declare a reigning pope is not a legitimate pope. It has been tried many times before in the Church’s history, and each challenger has eventually been silenced, humiliated, and often excommunicated, and I don’t believe Mr. Matatics will be the last.
Regardless of whether it is true that a pope in heresy cannot hold the office of pope (which has never been dogmatically defined and officially established by the Church), the unassailable fact remains that we laymen simply do not have the authority, or in most cases even the theological acumen or experience, to declare the pope a formal heretic.
Asserting that someone is a formal heretic is a very serious charge. It is a charge that can only be indicted, administered and adjudicated by a canonical court presided over by the highest officials of the Church. Even then the Church herself is officially undecided as to what the procedure would be to depose a pope who has been canonically branded with formal heresy.
At the least, this is not something that is to be decided by mere laymen such as Gerry Matatics who have absolutely no authority in the Church and are relative newcomers to the Catholic faith.
My suggestion to Mr. Matatics is to sit back and seriously reconsider his position. If, despite all admonition against his position he persists in it, then I disavow any and all relationship I’ve had with Mr. Matatics, and all other faithful Catholics should do the same.
If Mr. Matatics cannot work within the confines of the Catholic Church as it now stands and represents God on earth, then he is not to be followed in anything he says about the Catholic Church, and the same goes for the Dimond Brothers and any other sedevacantist who dares depose a pope by his own subjective judgment.
The Desire of Baptism
Regarding Mr. Matatics’ position on the Desire of Baptism, by his own words he puts himself in a dubious position, since his appeal to “tradition” in support of his sedevacantist position is undercut by the fact that the tradition, as represented by the Council of Trent, following St. Thomas Aquinas and the Fathers of the Church, upheld and indoctrinated the Desire of Baptism.
Session 6, Chapter 4, of the Council of Trent states:
In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the ‘adoption of the sons’ of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be erected except through the laver of regeneration, or a desire for it, as it is written: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’
The Council of Trent itself explained to us what it meant by the word “desire,” since it employed the same word in Chapter 14. In this case, “desire” refers to the desire to make a confession without actually being able to go to a priest in the confessional:
Hence it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation of them, or ‘a contrite and humble heart,’ but also the sacramental confession of the same, at least in desire and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment, which is remitted together with the guilt either by the sacrament or the desire of the sacrament, but for the temporal punishment...
In addition, Mr. Matatics’ statement in point #3 needs to be addressed. He writes: “I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that the sacrament of baptism is necessary for salvation, since that sacrament alone makes one a member of that Church outside of which there is no salvation, liberal and wishful thinking and statements by fallible theologians and fallible catechisms to the contrary notwithstanding.”
The Dimond brothers interpreted Mr. Matatics’ statement as follows:
Gerry Matatics has communicated to us that he is in full agreement on sedevacantism and the salvation dogma. That is to say, Gerry holds the sedevacantist position and also agrees that it is the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that the Catholic Faith and the Sacrament of Baptism are absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions for “baptism of desire.”
If the Dimond brothers’ interpretation of Mr. Matatics’ statement in point #3 is correct, then both they and he should reconsider their position in light of what two traditional catechisms have said on this issue. First is the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Mr. Matatics should be familiar with the Pius V’s Catechism, since he has used it on many occasions in defending traditional doctrine. The Catechism states:
On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness. (Tan Book, 1982, p. 179).
We can also add the interpretation under the reign of Pius X, the very pope that the sedevacantists consider one of the last legitimate popes. His Catechism states:
17 Q: Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?
A: The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, long with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.
Is it these Catechisms that Mr. Matatics had in mind when he referred to the “liberal and wishful thinking and statements by fallible theologians and fallible catechisms to the contrary notwithstanding,” since they both adopt a view that is the opposite of Mr. Matatics’ view?
In any case, if Mr. Matatics heeds the above catechetical interpretations and thus includes an exception for the desire of Baptism in his theological understanding of Baptism, then he is, of course, diametrically opposed to the Dimond brothers’ position which holds that “the Catholic Faith and the Sacrament of Baptism are absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions for ‘baptism of desire.’”
Mr. Matatics has a decision to make. Will he side with the extreme position of the Dimond brothers and categorically state, as they have, that there are “no exceptions for baptism of desire,” or will he heed the interpretation of the catechisms of Pius V and Pius X and risk the wrath of his new found alliance with the Dimond brothers?
To recap, Mr. Matatics’ and the Dimond brothers’ refusal to see any exception for the desire of baptism places them at odds with the interpretation of the Fathers of the Church (particularly St. Augustine who wrote the most on this issue); St. Thomas Aquinas who also wrote at length on Baptism, as well as Pope St. Pius V, Blessed Pope Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X, and Pope Pius XII, who all had something to say on the issue. This is not merely a matter of casually dismissing “fallible” theologians such as Suarez, Ott or Hardon (all three of which held to the validity of the desire of baptism), but of the consensus of the Church’s most esteemed doctors and papal authorities.
God be with you all.
Robert A. Sungenis, M.A., Ph.D. (cd)
Benjamin Douglass, B.A.E. (cand)
Catholic Apologetics International