OPEN

BYPASS BIG TECH CENSORSHIP - SIGN UP FOR mICHAEL mATT'S REGULAR E-BLAST

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

OPEN
Search the Remnant Newspaper
Monday, October 17, 2022

If the Church Can Remove a Formal Heretic from the Papacy, How Should it Handle a Destroyer?

Written by 
Rate this item
(29 votes)
If the Church Can Remove a Formal Heretic from the Papacy, How Should it Handle a Destroyer?

In a recent interview with Michael Matt, Bishop Athanasius Schneider responded to the question of whether Pope John XXII had lost the papacy when he fell into heresy in the early 1300s by teaching that the souls of the just did not enjoy the Beatific Vision until after the general judgment. In his response, Bishop Schneider argued that John XXII did not lose his office because the Church had not yet defined the associated dogma, so the pope had not fallen into “formal heresy.” By implication, John XXII might have lost the papacy if he had fallen into formal heresy.

Similarly, in his 2016 interview with The Catholic World Report, Cardinal Raymond Burke asserted that a pope would lose the papacy automatically by falling into formal heresy:

“If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.”

This leaves open the question of how the Church responds to such an automatic loss of the papacy, but it reinforces the idea that a formal profession of heresy means the pope can be removed.

Arguments for patient endurance of Francis’s attacks on Catholicism have become scandalous, especially because that patient endurance has allowed him to do extraordinary damage to the Church, lead countless souls to hell, and lend the Church’s apparent moral authority to the anti-Catholic initiatives of the Great Reset.

Three years later, several prominent Catholic theologians and college professors wrote an Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, which elaborated on the rationale for a pope losing his office by virtue of formal heresy:

“It is agreed that a pope who is guilty of heresy and remains obstinate in his heretical views cannot continue as pope. Theologians and canonists discuss this question as part of the subject of the loss of papal office. The causes of the loss of papal office that they list always include death, resignation, and heresy. This consensus corresponds to the position of untutored common sense, which says that in order to be pope one must be a Catholic. This position is based on patristic tradition and on fundamental theological principles concerning ecclesiastical office, heresy, and membership of the Church. The Fathers of the Church denied that a heretic could possess ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any kind. Later doctors of the Church understood this teaching as referring to public heresy that is subject to ecclesiastical sanctions, and held that it was based on divine law rather than ecclesiastical positive law. They asserted that a heretic of this kind could not exercise jurisdiction because their heresy separated them from the Church, and no-one expelled from the Church could exercise authority in it.”

The letter argued that the pope would not lose his office automatically; rather, the Church would need to take action to remove him:

“Sedevacantist authors have argued that a pope automatically loses the papal office as the result of public heresy, with no intervention by the Church being required or permissible. This opinion is not compatible with Catholic tradition and theology, and is to be rejected. Its acceptance would throw the Church into chaos in the event of a pope embracing heresy, as many theologians have observed. It would leave each individual Catholic to decide whether and when the pope could be said to be a heretic and to have lost his office. It should instead be accepted that the pope cannot fall from office without action by the bishops of the Church.”

Thus, there is disagreement about how the Church would need to react to a heretical pope, but this letter aligns with the statements of Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider that a pope could lose the papacy through formal heresy.

The tragic irony of the situation is that Francis wants to continue inflicting as much damage on the Church as possible so he refrains from giving bishops “irrefutable” evidence of his formal heresy.

Returning to the example of Pope John XXII discussed by Bishop Schneider, the formal heresy need not be one that has a tremendous impact on how most Catholics understand and practice the Faith. The real offense of formal heresy is that a Catholic pertinaciously adheres to a belief that contradicts a proclaimed truth of the Church. Pope Leo XIII gave us a succinct explanation for why this is deeply problematic in his 1896 encyclical letter, Satis Cognitum:

“[H]e who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith.”

If we reject a single point of divinely revealed truth, we implicitly reject the entire foundation of Catholic belief. This of course corresponds to what we recite in our Act of Faith:

“I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou [God] hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”

Taking all of this into consideration, the formal heretic rejects the foundation of Catholic belief even if his pertinacious heresy relates to what most of us would consider a relatively minor and inconsequential point of Faith. And, in the case of a pope, this could result in either automatic loss of the papacy or the need for the bishops to take steps to remove him from office.

If bishops have a duty to remove a pope who has fallen into formal heresy on a single point of Faith, it should be patently obvious that they have an even more pressing duty to remove a pope who has been successfully destroying the Church the way that Francis has.

Against this background, how do we assess the fact that Francis not only rejects the foundation of Catholic belief but also seeks to destroy the Church altogether? If the pertinacious rejection of a single point of Faith would justify removing him from the papacy, is there a logical basis for thinking he should retain the papacy when he makes it clear that he is persecuting Catholics precisely because he does not want them to adhere to what the Church has always taught? In other words, Francis unambiguously rejects the foundation of Faith and demands that everyone else does the same if they want to remain in the Church — it does not take a great theologian to recognize that this is worse than if he, for example, simply persisted in wrong thinking about when souls of the just receive the Beatific Vision.

Moreover, it is worth considering Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s recent response to Raymond Arroyo’s question about why the pope is allowing the “synodal” attacks on the Church:

“That is a difficult question. But I cannot understand it. I must say it openly, because the definition of the pope is, and [based in] the Vatican Council and also the history of Catholic theology, he has to guarantee the truth of the Gospel and the unity of all the bishops, and in the Church, in the revealed truth.”

A pope who fell into formal heresy could still conceivably fit within this “definition of the pope,” with the exception of his defective view on a particular Catholic teaching. Francis, however, does not faintly resemble Cardinal Müller’s definition of the pope. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he is almost the opposite of a pope by that definition.

The tragic irony of the situation is that Francis wants to continue inflicting as much damage on the Church as possible so he refrains from giving bishops “irrefutable” evidence of his formal heresy. Instead of merely rejecting a single point of Faith, he rejects countless Catholic truths and the entire basis for the Faith. And, increasingly, he demands that all Catholics do the same. But, because he does not convince the bishops that he has definitely fallen into formal heresy, he can continue until there is nothing left to destroy.

If the Saint Gallen Mafia could come together to achieve Satan’s nefarious aims, why should genuinely Catholic bishops hesitate to gather with the firm resolution of discerning and performing God’s will as faithfully as possible?

If this sounds like a preposterous situation that is because it is in fact preposterous. If bishops have a duty to remove a pope who has fallen into formal heresy on a single point of Faith, it should be patently obvious that they have an even more pressing duty to remove a pope who has been successfully destroying the Church the way that Francis has. We can see this clearly if we simply consider the principles set forth in the Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church (cited above):

“It is agreed that the evil of a heretical pope is so great that it should not be tolerated for the sake of some allegedly greater good. Suarez expresses this consensus as follows: 'It would be extremely harmful to the Church to have such a pastor and not be able to defend herself from such a grave danger; furthermore it would go against the dignity of the Church to oblige her to remain subject to a heretic Pontiff without being able to expel him from herself; for such as are the prince and the priest, so the people are accustomed to be.' St Robert Bellarmine states: 'Wretched would be the Church’s condition if she were forced to take as her pastor one who manifestly conducts himself as a wolf' (Controversies, 3rd controversy, Bk. 2, cap. 30).”

If this is true in the case of a heretical pope, it is even more true with Francis who is not only heretical but, in the words of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, is also leading a hostile takeover of the Church:

“This occupation of the Catholic Church is a hostile takeover of the Church of Jesus Christ . . . And if you look at only one page, or read one page of the Gospel, you'll see that it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.”

Those bishops who think they can do nothing significant to resolve this disastrous situation do not seem to place much confidence in God. If the Saint Gallen Mafia could come together to achieve Satan’s nefarious aims, why should genuinely Catholic bishops hesitate to gather with the firm resolution of discerning and performing God’s will as faithfully as possible? If it is not God’s will to remove Francis, then at least they will have done all they could and, if nothing else, can better guide their flocks in these dark days.

Now is not the time to defer to the bishops who are performing the work of the devil; now is the time to turn to God with confidence, giving everything to Him and His Church, even if it means martyrdom.

Arguments for patient endurance of Francis’s attacks on Catholicism have become scandalous, especially because that patient endurance has allowed him to do extraordinary damage to the Church, lead countless souls to hell, and lend the Church’s apparent moral authority to the anti-Catholic initiatives of the Great Reset. Even if we had once believed that prayer alone could resolve this disastrous crisis, God has made it abundantly clear, since Francis’s blasphemous introduction of his Pachamama in October 2019, that the entire world suffers from his abuse of the papacy. Today, almost all of the men who could take concrete steps to oppose Francis’s reign of terror instead rest on their episcopal laurels.

The message of Our Lady of Akita foretold the evil we already see in the Church, but we have not yet seen the widespread opposition to that evil from faithful bishops:

"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops.”

Now is not the time to defer to the bishops who are performing the work of the devil; now is the time to turn to God with confidence, giving everything to Him and His Church, even if it means martyrdom. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help the faithful bishops of the Church to do all they can to cooperate with God’s grace in counteracting this unfathomable scourging of the Mystical Body of Christ! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Latest from RTV — NEOCONS & WARHAWKS: Can Anyone Stop the Democrat (War) Party?

[Comment Guidelines - Click to view]
Last modified on Monday, October 17, 2022
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.