Siscoe’s Triple shell game


Recently at One Peter Five, a website which is subtitled, “Rebuilding Catholic Culture. Restoring Catholic Tradition”, Robert Siscoe has published an article to quell the raging doubts Catholics have about the legitimacy of Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy: the first part of which is entitled: “Dogmatic Fact, the One Doctrine which proves Francis is Pope“, and the second part of which is entitled, “For Each Objection, an answer why Francis is Pope“.

There is nothing much to be said for his article other than it’s a lawyer-esque attempt to convince his audience using 3 different shell games.  As you may know, a shell game is where you put a ball under one shell and then quickly shuffle the shells on a table top so that the onlooker loses track of which of the shells contains the ball, and then you ask the onlooker to guess under which shell the ball is.  In American popular discourse, a shell game, therefore, is a trick whereby you pretend that something is one thing at one time, when it really is not.

Here are Siscoe’s 3 Shell games:

The Church

In Siscoe’s mouth the verbal expression “The Church” has two distinct meanings: the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, AND the mass of those who uncritically accept that the resignation of Benedict XVI is valid because they never examined its conformity to Canon 332 §2.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: The Chuch (founded by Jesus Christ) cannot be deceived about who is the Pope.

Minor: The Church (of all those who have not examined the resignation of Benedict) accept Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

Conclusion: Therefore, The Church (founded by Jesus Christ) accepts Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

This kind of argumentation is a false illation, because the term “The Church” has not the same signification in both the major and minor premises of the syllogism.  Aristotle calls this the Sophism of the undistributed middle term, or the equivocation.

Fallible Private Opinion

In Siscoe’s mouth, the phrase “Fallible Private Opinion” has two senses:  in one sense its a judgement about something wherein the judgement may or may not be correct, because its not based on objective reality but on an interpretation of reality.  In the other sense, its any fact of objective reality which he wants to ignore for the sake of his argument.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: No merely infallible private opinion about dogmatic facts can assert itself as more authoritative than the judgement of the majority of men and women in the Church, since the Church’s sensus fidelium and Her indefectibility protects Her from error.

Minor: That Benedict’s act of renunciation regards the ministerium and not the munus, is a fallible private opinion.

Conclusion: Therefore, no one has the right to sustain that Benedict’s resignation is invalid against the vast majority of the members of the Church.

The error of this illation is found chiefly in the Minor. Because, that Benedict said ministerio not muneri in his act of renunciation is NOT a private opinion, but a fact of history.

Siscoe may not know it, but the Science of Logic teaches that the verity of premises flows down to their conclusions in valid illations.  Thus:

Major: That Benedict renounced his ministerium, is a fact of history.

Minor: That canon 332 §2 requires the renunciation of munus, is not a fallible private opinion, but a fact of law, being the very text of the Law.

Conclusion: That Benedict’s act of resignation is not in conformity with canon 332 is a fact of history.

Siscoe might want to ignore canon 38, which says that any Motu Proprio which runs counter to the terms of the law, EVEN IN THE CASE IN WHICH the one positing the act is IGNORANT of the law, is invalid UNLESS there is an express derogation from the law by the competent authority (in this case by the Pope), but Canon 38 is there and Catholics cannot ignore to apply it to this case.  Thus the conclusion infallibly follows, since the act of resignation contained no derogation from canon 38 or 332, that:

Benedict did not validly resign.

Peaceful and Universal Acceptance

These words mean two things in the mouth of Siscoe: in one sense they mean universal and peaceful and CANONICAL acceptance by the Church (see last quotation in part II). In the other sense they mean peaceful and universal acceptance CANONICAL OR NOT by the Church (see the citation of Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori).

So Siscoe’s usage of both terms can be reduced to this syllogism:

Major: The acceptance (Canonical) by the Church of of a man as Pope requires that all accept him as validly elected.

Minor: Bergoglio has been accepted (even if it be unCanonically).

Conclusion: Bergoglio must be accepted by all the Church as validly elected.

Siscoe’s illation is false because he is using 2 different senses of accepted. If he used the ancient reflex principle in its proper context, as he cites it in the final citation of that article, and did so AT THE BEGINNING of his article it would be obvious that he is beating against the air, because since the controversy regards whether Benedict canonically resigned, the key quality to be examined in the resignation is its conformity to canon law.

In Conclusion

Siscoe misunderstands the notion of infallibility.  Infallibility as a quality is the natural property of God alone as Infinite Truth. Infallibility as a charism of grace is vouchsafed to only a validly elected successor of Saint Peter. But infallibility is a quality of every true proposition, on account of truth being per se infallible, even if the thing asserted be asserted by a non infallible created person without any gift of grace.

Siscoe also seems to not know the distinction between an opinion and a fact. One can have an opinion about whether there is life on Mars, because we yet do not know if there is or is not. But one cannot have an opinion of whether there is life on Earth, since that is a fact.  An opinion can be had when both sides, pro and con, are possibles. But when there can be no truth on one side of the judgement, an opinion is impossible.

NOTE WELL: In this controversy, there is a fallible private opinion which is being asserted by some as superior to truth, reality and law, and it is this: that the renunciation of ministerium effects a renunciation of munus. Those who hold this opinion have yet to prove it, and the only valid proof must be in accord with the norm of Canon 17.


“True or False Pope?” — Book Review

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo


Click image to go to official Promotional site for this book.

In my many years, since college, I have rarely come upon a book written by a modern author, of which I can say, that its value will endure long after I am dead.  There are books which are very well written and even those which refute current errors, but of few of them can it be said that they will have anything other than a timely usefulness.  But of this new book by John Salza and Robert Siscoe, which deals not only with a timely issue — the moral and doctrinal error of Sedevacantism:  the error of judging by one’s self, who is or is not a legitimate pope today — but does so in a perennial manner (by searching out the founts of Catholic Theology and Canon Law and applying them not only to the specific problems presented by the Sedevacantists, but by addressing the Catholic solution to those problems, in the same manner that Catholics have done for 2016 years), one can truly proclaim: “It shall endure the ages as a monument of Catholic Theology and be sought out by Catholic Librarians for centuries to come,” — so well written, researched and organized it is.

For this reason, “True or False Pope?” is a book which I believe merits to be on the bookshelves of every Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Religious, Theologian, and learned Layman, not just in the hands of those afflicted or attacked by, or tempted to the error of Sedevacantism and its adherents.

But even more so, due to the present crisis brought on the Church by Team Bergoglio and the Kasperian thesis it has intentionally, deceitfully and maliciously promoted in all its actions, “True or False Pope?” is a book which needs to be read by all Catholics and the perennial Catholic teaching which it contains, put into practice: not only by those who confront Sedevacantists, or who are tempted by that error, but by every Theologian, Religious, Deacon, Priest, yes even Bishop and Cardinal, who has a duty to represent, though in different manners, the true teaching of the Faith and the right praxis of it, on questions of “Can the Pope be a heretic or schismatic?” and “What the Church and Bishops ought to do about it, if it should happen.”

For this reason, I wholeheartedly recommend each Catholic buy this book and give as many copies of it as a present to other Catholics, as they can, as its good effect in all the Church is something which we can not only expect in our present age, but be certain of through the generations to come which have the blessing to find a copy.

To order a copy and/or read more about this Book, go to: