Cajetan and Prayer in Bad Papal Times

From Thomas de Vio Cajetan, De Comparatione auctoritatis papae et concilii, ch. 27, nos. 417-420; cited in Journet, Church of the Word Incarnate, vol. 1 (pp. 425-427).

If you tell me that prayer is but a common remedy to be used against all the ills that afflict us, and that for the special evil that troubles us here we need a proper remedy—since every effect comes of a proper cause, not merely form general causes—I reply, in a general way, that the highest causes, although they play the part of common causes in respect to lower effects, play in fact the part of proper causes in respect to higher effects.  And that is why prayer, which is to be put among the highest of supernatural second causes, is only a common cause of lower effects; but it is a proper cause and the proper remedy for the highest effects, such as would be—since it is reserved for God—the removal from this world of a still believing but incorrigible Pope….

If then, on the one hand, the means available to human effort, even if superelevated by the authority of the Church, are a force inferior to prayer, appointed as the highest of second causes by God, to whom all creatures, corporeal or spiritual, are subject; and if, on the other hand, a remedy against a bad but still believing Pope is among the highest effects in the Church, it follows that God in His wisdom, must have given the Church for remedy against a bad Pope, not now any of these merely human means which may avail for the rest of the Church, but prayer alone.  And can the prayer of the Church, when she perseveringly asks things needful for her salvation, be any less efficacious than merely human means?  Is not the fervent prayer of an individual soul who asks such things for himself already efficacious and infallible?  (Cf. St. Thomas, SCG, 3.45 and 46.)  If then the salvation of the Church demands that such and such a Pope should be removed, then undoubtedly the prayer we have mentioned will remove him.  And if it be not necessary, why question the goodness of the Lord who refuses what we wish and gives us what we ought to prefer?...

But alas, it seems that we are come to the days announced by the Son of Man when He asked whether, on His return, He should find faith on the earth.  For the promises relating to the highest and most efficacious causes are held to be of no worth.  They say that we must depose a bad Pope by human means; that one cannot be content with resort to prayer and to divine providence alone!  But why do they say that , if not because they prefer human means to the efficacy of prayer, because the animal man does not perceive the things of God, because they have learnt to trust in man, not in the Lord, and to put their hope in the flesh?

So if a pope hardened by evil ways appears, his subordinates, without leaving their own vices, content themselves with daily murmings against the evil regime; they do not seek to avail themselves, save perhaps in a dream and without faith, of the remedy of prayer; so that what Scripture predicts comes about by their fault, namely that it is due to the sins of the people that a hypocrite reigns over them, holy in respect of his office, but a devil at heart…

We have become blind to the point of refusing to pray as we ought, while yet desiring the fruit of prayer; of refusing to sow, while still wanting to reap.  Let us not call ourselves Christians any longer! Or if we do, let us turn to Christ; and the Pope, were he frantic, furious, tyrannical, a render, dilapidator and corrupter of the Church, would be overcome.  But if we do not know how to overcome ourselves, what right have we to complain of being unable to break through the evils that surround us by prayers that not only fail to rise through our roofs, but do not even mount as far as our heads?  And the worst of all is this: God of old upbraided His people for honoring Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him; but in the days of the revelation of Grace, God is not even honored with lips, for nothing is less intelligible than the recitation of the divine office, nothing said more quickly than the Mass; the time given to these seems long, too long, but time enough is found for play, business, and worldly pleasures, and for loitering over them endlessly.