My Response to Dr. Peter Kwasniewski on Pope Benedict XIV

I’ve often observed that some people accuse others of the very things they appear to do. Case in point, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski posted the following comment about me on Facebook, accusing me of “excessive haste and misguided zeal…” and rushing “to the studio for a half-hour program to ‘take down’ the next threatening falsehood.”

His comments were in reaction to the following post I made on Twitter:

It is curious he would accuse me of “excessive haste” and rushing to the studio (which is located 50 feet away from my house), when it truly seems it is he who has done this very thing in the FB post above. How so? Well, I am aware this quote was made by Pope Benedict XIV prior to his election as pope. I was not able to go into details and give a long description with an explanation that this was written by a man who was elected pope, but was not yet elected at the time, due to the fact there are limited characters on Twitter. In fact, I ran out of characters to use when I published the tweet, which is why I don’t have a space after the dash, truncated the quote with an ellipses, and even changed the translation from “pontiff” to “pope,” just to make it fit. I simply posted it the way it was, since people would be more likely to recognize his papal name, rather than his name as a cardinal. I also never thought for a moment that this was a Magisterial act (which Dr. Peter elsewhere assumed I maintained), or ever claimed it was. I merely quoted it to show that a prominent figure agreed with the very things I was saying earlier that day, and Dr. Peter will still need to respond to the charge that it is “temerarious” to take the position he has taken on the matter of papal canonizations. Thus, I am not guilty of “excessive haste and misguided zeal…” but I do question if Dr. Peter K. has done this very thing.

Moreover, I will note the following from Timothy Gerard Aloysius Wilson on the matter of the quoted I provided, which demonstrates Dr. Peter was too hasty in critiquing me on the manner of my quotation:

when the theologians/manualists cite De servorum Dei beatificatione et beatorum canonizatione they cite him as “Benedict XIV”, not “Lambertini”. You can observe this e.g. in Herve’s Manuale theologiæ dogmaticæ tom. 1, n. 516 fn. 1 and in Pesch’s Prælectiones dogmaticæ, tom. 1, n. 547.

To use the words of Dr. Peter, it seems he made an “elementary blunder.”

After seeing the post, I explained myself to Dr. Peter, against my better judgment, with my rationale outlined above. However, instead of realizing he, once again, jumped the gun, he decided to state in a follow-up comment that it was “unethical” of me to “quote a text with such strong language in it, and then attribute it to a pope…” Unethical? Those are some very strong words. I wasn’t aware there were citation rules for Twitter. Perhaps Dr. Peter can release his Twitter Citation Guide (first edition?) to help me with future posts.

Admittedly, I did expect this kind of reaction from Dr. Peter. In fact, I knew it was only a matter of time, since earlier this morning I told him that he was wrong to jump the gun by accusing Pope Francis of being a formal heretic (where are those Twitter ethics when you need them), as seen below:

In other words, I told Dr. Peter that he has adopted a rash position without sufficient evidence, so I was expecting him to find something he could nit-pick as rash on my part. After all, it is consistent with the observations I’ve made about his character, so far. For example, I recently told him that he was being overly rude in his comments to me, and instead of recognizing his own fault, he excused his behavior by accusing me of doing the same. For this reason, I anticipated this sort of tu quoque behavior.

As an aside, I also take issue with Dr. Peter, who seems to be under the impression that unless Rome has given a Magisterial intervention, then one is still free to dispute the infallibility of papal canonizations. Suffice it to say, it is generally agreed that if there is a moral unanimity among theologians on a particular matter of doctrine, then the issue cannot be dissented from. In other words, one of the ways we can identify the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium has taught something is by looking to a consensus among the theologians. It should be noted that Lambertini, and many others, confirm the infallibility of papal canonizations is generally affirmed among the theologians, which would imply it is a matter that cannot be disputed.

Finally, if Dr. Peter had simply read his messages on Facebook, he would have seen that I was willing to overlook his repeatedly rude behavior towards me by having him on the show to discuss his book on St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, Dr. Peter has had an open invite for a very long time and has never taken me up on the offer. When I reflect on the matter, however, I am still willing to have him on the show, but I hope he takes a step back and reevaluates some of this seemingly hasty behavior that may have played a contribution in his hasty conclusion that Pope Francis is a “formal heretic.”

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