Father Joaquin Saenz y Arriaga
Puede un Papa caer en la herejia?
Can A Pope Fall Into Heresy?
That the Pope, as an individual, can fall into error or heresy is a fact not at all contrary to the Pontifical Infallibility defined as a dogma of our Catholic Faith. In Gracian’s Decree this statement is attributed to St. Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, who was quoted by Cardinal Deusdedit (+1087), and later by Yves de Chartres, (Decretum V,23): “Huius (i.e. Papae) culpas istic redarguere praesumit mortalium nullus, quia qui cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprendatur a fide devius” (Decretum part. l, dist. XL, c6). (“Let nobody, among mortals, dare to presume to declare the Pope’s faults, because the one who has to judge everybody, should not be judged by anybody, except if he is found to be deviated from the straight way of Faith”.) In one of the sermons of Pope Innocent III, the Supreme Pontiff says: “In tantum fides mihi necessaria est ut, cum de ceteris peccatis solum Deum iudicem habeam, propter solum peccatum quod in fide committitur possem ab Ecclesia iudicari” (Patrologia Latina, t.217, col 656). (“Faith is so necessary to me, that being so, only God may judge me of all other sins, but if I commit a sin against Faith, I could be judged by the Church”.)
Great theologians of the scholastic Golden Century forgot the study of this hypothesis, but canonists of the 12th and 13th centuries discussed Gracian’s [Gratian’s] text. Everybody accepts, without any difficulty, that the Pope may fall into heresy as in any other serious sin; their study is concentrated in explaining the reason why the Pope may be judged by the Church only for his sins against faith. For some of them, the only exception to pontifical inviolability is heresy: “Non potest accusari nisi de haeresi”. (“He is not able to be accused except of heresy”.) (Summa Lipsiensis, before 1170). On the other hand, other canonists compare heresy with schism, simony and incredulity; but a Pope’s sin against faith is one that, for everybody and always, the Pope may be judged.
Canonist Rufin (1164) sums up the opinions of his time: “In ea (causa) quae totam Ecclesiam contingit, iudicari potest, sed in ea, quae unam personam vel plures, non”. (“Because of a cause affecting all the Church, a Pope may be judged; but not because of causes affecting only one or a few persons.”) Rufin determines that it deals with a case of obstinate heresy. “Prima sedes non iudicabitur a quoquam nisi in fidei articulis pertinaciter erraverit”. (“The First See [i.e. the Papacy-the office held by the Pope] may not be judged by anyone, except in case the Pope has perpetrated sins against the Articles of Faith pertinaciously.”) In this event, for Canonists of that time, in the case of heresy, [Papal] primacy could not be claimed, since in such an event the Pope were the last of Catholics, because he would be out of the Church.
This was the common doctrine of the 15th century. For some, a heretic pope was automatically dismissed (Torquemada, Summa de Ecclesia L.II, c .112, Roma 1469). Other theologians were of the opinion that, in this case, the Pope might be judged by a Council, whose authority extended only to judge the Pontiff’s heresy; and in a proven case, it might dismiss him and appoint a new Pope. Thomas Netter (1430) states that this was the ancient Catholic belief.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the view of Cardinal Torquemada is reaffirmed by the great theologian from Salamanca, Melchior Cano, of the Order of Preachers, in his work, DE ROMANI PONTIFICIS INSTITUTIONE ET AUCTORITATE, chapter XIII. The opinion of Prierio is similar (Summa Sylvestrina, v. II, p.276. This view is opposed by Piggies who denies the possibility that the Pope may fall into heresy, because his deficiency would fall upon Christ, represented by him. Against this conclusion, the extraordinary theologian of the Trent Council, Melchior Cano, O.P., after having rejected most of the explanations given by Pighio to defend many Popes so far as faith is concerned, concludes that it cannot be denied that a Pope can fall into heresy; since in one case, one example is enough, even if there might be two or more (instances) (De locis theologicis 1. VIII, cap. VIII).
Since the definition of Pontifical Infallibility given by the First Ecumenical and Dogmatic Vatican Council, many theologians, mini-theologians and pseudo-theologians, confusing the defined doctrine, or not understanding it, have stated that the Pope, due to the fact of being a Pope, is (thereby) infallible [unable to teach falsely] and impeccable [sinless] always and in everything.
If this view were true, I believe the 1st Vatican Council’s definition was badly given; there should be reason for this. It would have been enough to say that any man who, legitimately or illegitimately, sits in St. Peter’s Chair, is always infallible in addition to being impeccable. Such an absurd theology, the history of the Church contradicts with irrefutable facts...I will demonstrate that such a statement, thesis, opinion or doctrine not only is false, but it is contradictory, absurd, piis auribus offensiva [offensive to pious ears].
a) Falseness. It is false, due to the many causes not only ancient but recent as well as present, which, are demonstrated by Church history, in which Popes have fallen into error about matters related with the very Faith. Pope Montini [N.B. Montini became Pope Paul 6 on Friday, June 21, 1963 A.D. and the Spanish edition came out in December, 1963 A.D. - hence an obvious update of some of the original 1962 text in the Spanish edition which was carried forward into the later original English edition of Wednesday, February 15, 1967 A.D., which edition was later updated again before its re-publication in 1978 A.D.] by following with so much enthusiasm the Maritenian thesis, considered heretical and scandalous, was undoubtedly wrong; indeed Montini was wrong, most certainly so when, with an incredible and dangerous vision, he stated in his speech at the UN [United Nations Organization] that their heterogeneous organization, controlled by invisible hands, was the solid and sure hope on which to build a better and more humane world for mankind of today and tomorrow.
The Pope was also wrong when, in diplomatic relations with countries controlled by Atheist Communism, he sought an anti-Christian, anti-religious and politically-suicidal position to guarantee World Peace. And it is not extending my reasoning too much to say that Paul VI fell into the most serious of all his errors by imposing on us the NOVUS ORDO MISSAE which is intentionally equivocal and invalid, favoring heresy. Can a Catholic, can a fairly well-educated theologian, defend with calm conscience the fact that Pope Montini permitted an active role in the concocting of the new liturgy to be given to Protestant theologians (?) who deny and reject Eucharistic dogma to which John Baptist Montini and every Catholic priest and all the faithful of our religion are obligated to profess and defend. In these cases, and in many others, Paul VI, as we have demonstrated, resolutely broke the solid, immutable and quieting voice of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
b) Obvious Contradiction. It is an obvious contradiction-not merely political, but declaredly doctrinal-for the socialized Vatican, in statements to the Catholic and non-Catholic world, which views with fear and stupor the attempts to make or try to make false the ancient condemnations of Communism by previous Popes who have declared that Communism is intrinsically evil and perverse, that no Catholic can in good conscience collaborate with it, and that those who join its ranks and become congenial with its policies and its ideas are ipso facto excommunicated.
These contradictions cannot pass unnoticed by the people, much less by those who reflect, analyze and synthesize ideas or facts. If prior to John XXIII, Paul VI and their [Vatican-2] Council, the condemnation of Communism was universal in the Church and there were no clergymen or monks who had even dared to simulate an excuse for Socialism or Communism; if yet, twenty years ago, an impressive museum of the Church of Silence existed very close to Rome’s Gregorian University, which was built by the Jesuits to objectively demonstrate the unbelievable cruelty of Communists towards Catholics; if in that time the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, the whole clergy touchingly praised the heroism of Cardinals Stepinac and Mindzenty, who were victims of the hatred of the godless; and if the Church favored and encouraged the organization and struggles of anti-Communist groups-why, I ask why, does the Pope [i.e., Paul 6] now receive Communist leaders with honors? Why has the Vatican been converted into a central point of Communist policy? Is this not a true contradiction? Is this not reason against free peoples? Does it not cooperate in the loss of faith?
c) Absurdity. Besides being false and contradictory, it is also absurd; that is to say: “contrary; opposed to reason”. In fact, it is equivalent to saying that the election of a man as Pope makes this man the sensible expression of Divine Truth at every moment, in every word, in every judgment. Reason tells us that Truth does not change, Truth is immutable. If it were the privilege of every Pope that his infallibility be personal but non-didactical, not only in very special circumstances, but always and on all occasions, it should follow logically, as a consequence, that all Popes should have the same way of feeling, the same way of thinking, a permanent judgment, guaranteed by Divine assistance, which cannot be resisted by human [free] will.
But is this what is said by the history of the Church? Is this the same that is shown by Paul VI himself with his dialectic attitude? On April 6, 1969, the Sacred Rite Congregation published the “Novus Ordo Missae” with a Decree of Benno Cardinal Gut, who was Prefect of the Sacred Rite Congregation and President of the “CONSILIUM”, an organization whose mission was and is to change the liturgy........
[Quotes from said documents omitted.]
Now, omitting the serious irregularities of the “Novus Ordo Missae” - as presented in the critical study prepared by the best theologians, Canonists and Pastors of Rome, and which was shown to the Pope by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani [b. at Rome, Italy on Wednesday, October 29, 1890 - d. at Rome, Italy on Friday, August 3, 1979] and Cardinal Bacci - we limit ourselves to the one single point of the General Instruction, the definition of the Mass. We find a very mistaken definition of the Mass, which “impressively separates itself from the infallible theology of the Council of Trent”.
[In the Novus Ordo Rite for Mass] “the Lord’s Supper or Mass is the sacred meeting of the congregation of God’s people, assembled under the presidency of a priest to celebrate the Lord’s memorial. Hence, it is eminently valid, when to the local assembly of Holy Church there is spoken Christ’s promise: ‘where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there among them’” (Matt. 18:20).
This definition is completely mistaken and, therefore, completely anti-Catholic. Due to the numerous protests made by Catholics around the world, on this point and on others, the General Instruction had to be amended. It did not matter that this Institutio Generalis had been approved by the Pope, as the Holy Congregation’s decree states: All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
If infallibility of the Pope is personal and constant, how could we explain his approval given to the General Instruction, which soon had to be corrected to hide doctrinal errors or mistakes in the first edition of the INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI? On the other hand, we should take into account that even though amendments were made to correct the denounced deplorable mistakes, the new rites make Protestant the august Sacrifice of the Mass, which is a bloodless reenactment of the same Sacrifice of Calvary. In face of these errors, can we uphold the personal and permanent infallibility of Paul VI?
There are many who believe that Pope Montini’s doctrine-meaning his ordinary magisterium [teaching]-has always been and is completely orthodox, because to date he has not made an ex cathedra definition. The documents of Vatican II, a Pastoral Council, which do not define anything and which do not condemn anything, do not meet the essential requirements to fulfill the conditions which should characterize the extraordinary and infallible Magisterium of the Church, which anathematizes errors and heresies that are destroying the Catholic Faith and which solemnly proclaim those Truths revealed by God and found in the Deposit of Divine Revelation.
Explanation by Cardinal Saint Robert Bellarmine, S.J.,
On the Five Opinions of Several Theologians on this Theme
Bellarmine writes (Vol. I, page 608 OPERA OMNIA):
“Tenth Argument. The Pope may be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy, as has been shown in the [Gratian’s] 40th distinction:
“Part III. If the Pope, being negligent about his own, as well as his brother’s, eternal health, would deserve reprehension because of his actions and, furthermore, if he would be silent about the good things he should say, which is his primary duty, concerning both himself and others, notwithstanding, he would take to hell with himself a great multitude to be punished forever; nevertheless, no mortal dare to accuse him of his faults, because the one who has to judge everybody should not be judged by anybody UNLESS HE HAS DEVIATED FROM THE FAITH, for whose perpetual condition [in the true Faith] the universality of the faithful should ask since the eternal health of everybody, prevailingly depends, after God, upon his own faith’s security” (Corpus Iuris Canonici, Editio Lipsiensis Secunda, Friedberg, Pars Prior, Decretum Magistri Gratiani Dist. XL, III, page 146).
Parenthetically, I dare to expose an apodictic argument, which is not among Bellarmine’s ideas but implicitly among Gracian’s [Gratian’s]. In main litanies, as well as in other prayers of the Church, it is expressly asked that the faith of the Pope and all ecclesiastic orders be kept: “That thou condescend to keep the Pope and all ecclesiastic orders in the Holy Religion” (“Ut Domum Apostolicum, et omnes eclesiasticos ordines in sancta religione conservare digneris”)... Lex Orandi, Lex, Est Credendi: the Law of Prayer Is the Law of Faith.
The reason the Church asks, solemnly, officially and liturgically, for the keeping of the Pope’s faith is because the Pope may fall into heresy, since he may deviate from the way of faith.
Let us go back to Bellarmine’s ideas, He continues, saying: “At least there is one case in which the Pope is subject to men’s judgment. There are five opinions about this matter:
a) That of Albert Pighio, who states that the Pope can never be a heretic and, consequently, he can never be dismissed. This is the opinion of our minimal theologian Salvador Abascal and of his acolyte Salmeron. Nevertheless, St. Robert Bellarmine, the great theologian, Saint and Doctor of the Church, recognizes that such opinion is neither true nor common among theologians.
I would dare to add two things. First (as stated above), if the Pope could never fall into heresy, the dogmatic conciliar definition of the Roman Catholic Council Vatican I was badly given. It should have said: The Pope, every Pope, is always and during his reign and in all his teachings infallible and, consequently, impeccable. Second, if the Pope cannot fall personally into error in matters pertaining to Faith, the Pope would have to be confirmed in grace. This judgment is condemned by the Church.
Cardinal John Torquemada
b) The second opinion is the same as we have already stated, that of Cardinal John Torquemada (Summa de Ecclesia, book IV, part 2, chapter 20): “The Pope, because of the same fact of being in heresy is out of the Church and deposed by God, a reason why he may be judged, that is, he may be deposed, in case he refuses to submit, because of being unable to keep and defend the Deposit of Faith, which has been entrusted to him”.
Let us remark three things in this matter, First, according to Torquemada, the Pope may be in heresy. Second, in that moment he is deposed by God. Third, in such a case men’s judgment is not only possible, but it may declare that the heretic Pope has ceased to be the Pope.
Bellarmine does not accept this opinion, according to which deposition comes from God directly. but because of men’s contribution, since because of their election he, not being Pope, became the Pope; then God does not take away such jurisdiction, but because of men’s contribution who are those who must judge and depose the Pope. Furthermore, Bellarmine says a hidden heretic cannot be judged by man; not even a Pope, who is a hidden heretic, would want to abandon his office. Bellarmine also believed that hidden [secret] heretics are not out of the Church.
As this is not the case, we set aside the hypothesis of hidden heresy and the obvious resistance of a Pope, who is a hidden heretic, to abandon his position. Men’s participation in the election of a Pope seems not to be a reason for God’s impossibility, without men’s contribution, to depose a Pope who, upon losing his faith, separated himself from Him. This argument of Bellarmine, “nimis probat”, proves too much and then it proves nothing. Because of the priest’s ministry, the Sacraments bring us the blessing grace; but, however, nobody is going to say that the priest’s mediation is necessary for us to lose God’s friendship and the blessing grace. Election as Pope makes it possible that God gives to the elected person Papal prerogatives; the administration of the sacraments makes possible that God, through the priests, gives us blessing and sacramental grace; but we through sin, and the Pope by his heresy, set ourselves apart from God, and that is the reason why God deprives the Pope of his jurisdiction and deprives us of His friendship and grace, independently of human contribution.
c) The third opinion states that the Pope, neither by hidden heresy nor by obvious heresy, can be deposed. Contrary to this opinion of Abascal and Salmeron, St. Bellarmine says that such opinion is completely indefensible, Because the Pope, in spite of his supreme priesthood and jurisdiction, may be in heresy and that, if this heresy is public, he may be judged, as is already evident in the above-mentioned Gracian’s 40th distinction and in Innocent III’s second sermon about the Pontiff’s consecration. Furthermore, this is found in Council VIII, act 7, where acts of the Roman Council are mentioned, in the time of Adrian II, in which it was said that Pope Honorius seemed to be excommunicated, by law, since he was considered convicted of heresy.
It must be noticed that although Honorius was not a formal heretic, but slow to repress heresy and that Pope Adrian was deceived by adulterated documents from Synod VI, because of which he judged Honorius’ heresy; nevertheless, we cannot deny that the 8th Council, within Catholic Truth, decreed that a Pope found to be guilty of heresy may and should be judged and deposed. St. Bellarmine says: “If a hungry and blood-thirsty wolf would like to devour the Church, it would be the end if the Church were so impotent as not to be able to defend itself by rejecting the intruder”.
d) Cajetan’s is the fourth opinion. He states that the heretic Pope is not ipso facto automatically deposed.. .but it is necessary to depose him. According to Bellarmine’s opinion, this judgment cannot be defended. On the one hand, because an obvious heretic is ipso facto deposed, as proved by authority and reason.
It is proven through St. Paul’s authority who, in an epistle to Titus (c. III) orders that after two reprehensions, that is to say, after the heretic has been revealed as such, if he is pertinacious he should be taken to receive a sentence of judgment. That is, two opportunities may be given the guilty, first reprehending him alone, and afterwards before two witnesses, and finally to accuse and condemn him before the Church.
Also, St. Jerome wrote: “Some sinners are excluded from the Church’s Body because of the excommunication against them, but not so the heretics who separate from Christ’s Body”; which is impossible when talking about the Pope, according to Cajetan. “How could we separate our head? How to divide ourselves from a member joined to us?”
Clear reason is against Cajetan. “Non-Christians cannot, in any way, be a Pope,” as Cajetan acknowledges (Ibid., Chapter 26). He who is not a member cannot be the head, and he who is not a Christian is not a member. But Cyprian frankly says that the obvious heretic is not a Christian (Book IV, Epistle 2); and St. Athanasius in his second sermon against the Arians says the same thing as St, Augustine, in his book “Da Gratia Christi” (Chapter 20); as well as St. Jerome (Against Lucifer) and many others. Thus an obvious heretic cannot be a Pope.
Cajetan replies to this argument (In Apol. pro Tract. praedicto, chapter 25 et in ipso tractatu cap. 22) by saying that the heretic does not simply cease being a Christian, but only to a certain extent; because a man is a Christian because of two things, faith and the indelible character received through Baptism. The heretic having lost his faith, nevertheless maintains the Baptismal character and is subject to jurisdiction. Hence, he is still a Pope, but he must be deposed, because due to heresy he is willing to cease being a Pope, with the last dis position, as a man who although not yet dead, he is already dying.
But Bellarmine argues vigorously against this way of thinking. “Because if a heretic having lost his faith, in the first place, remains united with the Church, by reason of the baptismal character, he could never be separated or divided from it, because the baptismal character is indelible.” Nevertheless, everybody concedes that there are some who may be eliminated or expelled from Her [the Church]. The Baptismal character does not require that the heretic still remain in the Church, but that it is a sign that he was in the Church and that he should return to the Church. Likewise with the sign or mark impressed on a sheep; when it is lost out of the sheepfold the sign or mark does not return the sheep to the sheepfold, but it only tells the place from where it went out and to which the sheep must be made to return. And this is confirmed by the words of St. Thomas who says that those who do not have faith are not currently joined with Christ, but only potentially in part III, question 8, article 3, where he speaks of the internal, not the external, communion realized through confession of faith and through visible Sacraments. And, as stated by St. Thomas, the baptismal character belongs to the interior and not to the exterior; the character alone does not join man with Christ.
And Bellarmine’s argument continues: “Either faith is simply a necessary disposition for a man to be a Pope or is only a disposition for him to be a good Pope”. If it is the first, this disposition being lost because of lost faith, the Pope automatically ceases being a Pope; form cannot be kept without the essential conditions. If faith were the only necessary disposition for a Pope to be a good Pope, he could not be deposed because of proven heresy, since, on the contrary, he should also be deposed because of the lack of the other qualities necessary for a Pope to be a good Pope, not only because of lost faith. Again, Cajetan acknowledges (Chapter 26) that because of defect of not only the necessary conditions, but also the convenient ones to be a good Pope, he may never be deposed.
Cajetan answers to this point: “Faith is simply a necessary disposition, but a partial disposition, not total; and, because of the same reason, with faith lost, the Pope continues being Pope, because of the other portion (Episcopal Character) of the remaining disposition, which is necessary for his legitimate possession of the Papacy”.
However, Bellarmine answers: “Either this total disposition, constituted by faith and character, is simply necessary or not, but partial disposition is enough.” If we accept the first statement, after losing faith there is not the simply necessary disposition to be a Pope, that is to say, total disposition (faith and character); if we accept the second statement, we have to conclude that faith is not simply necessary to be a Pope but a partial disposition of episcopal character is enough. Then, because of lack of faith, a Pope cannot be deposed. Furthermore, the things that form the last disposition for him to lose totally the Papacy, they cease being, little by little, as it is clear, without any external force; then, a heretic Pope, without being deposed, would by himself cease being a Pope.
To this argument of Bellarmine, I want to add another, which seems obvious and that, in our case, may have a decisive importance, Let us suppose a baptized man who, gradually or at once, because of his own [free] will or because of a compromise or external pressure, ceased being a Christian, lost his faith, although hiding his pertinacious heresy, hiding with fallacies his serious mistakes, converted, for example, into an authentic “Marrano”; this man, supposedly legitimately baptized, keeps his baptismal character, however, when he loses his faith, according to Cajetan’s argument, such a baptized heretic could be validly elected Pope, even though he was a heretic, because even if he does not have all necessary dispositions for a legitimate election, at least he has the partial disposition, which gives him its indelible character, imposed on him through Holy Baptism. In this case it is evident, despite the baptismal character, which is also maintained by those condemned in Hell, the candidate is not “subiectum capax ad electionem”, i.e., is not a person capable of being validly elected, since he is not a member of the Church any more. In that case, how could he be the foundation of the Church; the principle of unity, cohesion and stability of the Church structure?
On the other hand, the Holy Fathers consistently teach not only that heretics are out of the Church, but they also, ipso facto, lack all jurisdiction and dignity in the Church, as Bellarmine says...
Confirming St. Bellarmine’s opinion, St. Cyprian wrote (Book II, Epistle 6): “Dicimus enim omnes omnino haereticos atque schismaticos nihil habere potestatis ac iuris” then, we say that all heretics and schismatics had neither power nor jurisdiction. And in letter 1 he shows that heretics, who return to the Church, have to be received as Laics, although they had been presbyters or bishops when they were inside the Church. Optatus states that heretics and schismatics cannot have the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and neither tie nor untie anything (Book I against Parmen). St. Ambrose (in his book de poenit. c.2) and St. Augustine (in his book against Lucifer) show: “Not because those who were heretics could be bishops, but it could be evident that who we received had not been heretics”.
Pope Celestine I
Pope Celestine I, in a letter to Antioch, which nay be found among the Ephesus Council documents (Vol I, c.19), says: “If anyone has been excommunicated by bishop Nestorius or by any other of the bishops following him, since they began to preach these errors, or he is deprived from his dignity as bishop or clergyman, it is evident that this man was and is in our communion and that we do not think he is deposed, because that man’s decree was not valid, since he had demonstrated that he should be removed, so he could not remove anyone”. And in his epistle to the Constantinople clergy he stated: “The authority of Our (Apostolic) See has sanctioned that no bishop, nor clergyman, nor Christian of any profession who has been rejected or excommunicated by Nestorius and their followers, since they began to preach such errors, has lost his position or his legitimate communion with us, because he who did not hesitate in preaching such errors, could neither reject nor remove any one.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P.
And St. Thomas [Aquinas], in [Summa Theologica, Part] II-II, question 39 [article 3], shows us the reasons for this total and irrevocable loss of jurisdiction of the heretic or schismatic, whether he be a simple clergyman, a bishop, a cardinal or a Pope, as the case may be.
“I answer that, Spiritual power is twofold, the one sacramental, the other a power of jurisdiction. The sacramental power is one that is conferred by some kind of consecration. Now all the consecrations of the Church are immovable so long as the consecrated thing remains: as appears even in inanimate things, since an altar, once consecrated, is not consecrated again unless it has been broken up. Consequently such a power as this remains, as to its essence, in the man who has received it by consecration, as long as he lives, even if he fall into schism or heresy: and this is proved from the fact that if he come back to the Church, he is not consecrated anew. Since, however, the lower power ought not to exercise its act, except in so far as it is moved by the higher power, as may be seen also in the physical order, it follows that such persons lose the use of their power, so that it is not lawful for them to use it. Yet if they use it, this power has its effect in sacramental acts, because therein man acts only as God’s instrument, so that sacramental effects are not precluded on account of any fault whatever in the person who confers the sacrament.” – “On the other hand, the power of jurisdiction is that which is conferred by a mere human appointment. Such a power as this does not adhere to the recipient immovably: so that it does not remain in heretics and schismatics; and consequently they neither absolve nor excommunicate, nor grant indulgence, nor do anything of the kind, and if they do, it is invalid.” – “Accordingly when it is said that such like persons have no spiritual power, it is to be understood as referring either to the second power, or if it be referred to the first power, not as referring to the essence of the power, but to its lawful use.”...
Statements of Bellarmine
and St. Thomas and Making our own Argumentation:
a) It is not against Catholic faith but, on the contrary, is indeed consistent with Catholic faith, that a Pope may fall into heresy; may deviate from the faith.
b) It is not against Catholic faith, but indeed consistent with Catholic faith, that upon a Pope being found guilty of the heresy of having deviated from the faith, he is subject not only to God’s judgment but also to the judgment of men. We must always place the integrity of the profession of our Catholic Faith above all our respect, our obedience and our devotion to the Pope. If what is said or done by a Pope is against the Faith, he is against the invariable and traditional doctrines of the Church; then, if we judge the Pope and separate ourselves from what he says or does, we not only do not sin, but we comply with the first duty of our religion.
c) According to Gracian’s 40th distinction and the second sermon of Innocent III and the 8th General Council, upon a Pope being found guilty of heresy or having deviated from the faith, he may and must be judged and declared deposed by a competent court. Let us recall Bellarmine’s words: “If a hungry and blood-thirsty wolf would like to devour the Church, it would be the end if the Church were so impotent as not to be able to defend itself by rejecting the intruder”.
d) Both by authority and reason, it is proven that a heretic Pope is not deposed by us, but his deposition is by God Himself. The declaration while not a legal act would reveal the condition already existing in the Pontiff. As long as such formal legal declaration is not made, we may think- at least I do- that the invalid actions of a Pope, who is no longer the Pope before God because he has lost his faith, and has ceased to be a member of the Church, have, however, their legal value, legitimately, because of the general principle of law “In errore communi supplet Ecclesia” (The Church provides during the time of common errors.). Let us remember that the Church is a whole and the Pope is a part of it, although he is the principal part of the Church here on earth.
e) In the opinion of the Holy Fathers, a Pope who has fallen into heresy, “although keeping his sacramental power as a bishop which in indelible, does not keep and cannot recover the supreme power of jurisdiction”, which is irrecoverable. The same can be said of bishops or cardinals who have fallen into heresy or schism.
Under this doctrine, I dare to ask: What is the Pope? He is the successor of Peter and of the Chair of Rome, the Vicar of Christ and the visible head of the Church Militant. As we have stated before, the Head of the Church is Christ and Christ alone, but the “visible head” of the Church Militant [neither of the Church Suffering-in Purgatory; nor of the Church Triumphant-in Heaven] is the Pope; he is the Vicar of Christ; His deputy on earth; he is, as my good friend Nemesio Garcia Naranjo Elizondo would say, the “apoderado” [proxy] not the “poderdante” [constituent], a reason why he must not do nor say anything except what has been bestowed on him.
The sina qua non condition, without which no man can be a Pope, is that he must be a Catholic, that he has the true Faith of Christ, not a Rabbinical faith, nor an Ecumenical faith-in a Protestant sense. And this is so for two reasons. First, because to be the visible head of the Church he has to be a member of Christ’s Mystical Body; if, to begin with, a man openly shows he does not hold the Catholic Faith, he is not a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and he cannot be the visible head of the Church Militant. Second, because faith, as we have already said, is the basis and principle of our justification through Jesus Christ, and faith being necessary to please God, men without faith do not participate in the Divine life, which is the purpose of the Incarnation and the Redemption by Jesus Christ, according to His own words: “Ego veni ut vitam habeant et abundantius habeant” (I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly) (John 10:l0). And as the Divine Master said: “He who listens to My Word and believes in Him Who sent Me has eternal 1ife”. Men who are heretics, either secretly or publicly, are the darnel sown by the enemy in the middle of the wheat. How can he who openly contradicts the doctrine of Christ and offers us a doctrine which is not from Christ, represent Christ and give us the doctrine of Christ?
Furthermore, the primary and essential purpose of the Papacy is “to graze Christ’s sheep and lambs, to be the foundation of the Church, to have the Primacy of Jurisdiction and Teaching, to confirm his brothers in the Faith.” It is so that, in order to be able to fill this exceedingly high office, he needs to preserve in a most faithful manner the “DEPOSITUM FIDEI” [The Deposit of Faith], in whose solid and Divine doctrine he must feed the flock which has been entrusted to him.
How can he, who does not have the doctrine of the Church, be the foundation of the Church? How can he, who has lost his faith and endeavors to use the highest powers for the destruction and not for the edification of the Church, conserve the Primacy of Jurisdiction and Teaching? How can he, who does not have the Faith of Christ, confirm his brothers in that Faith? Christ is “the way, the Truth and the life” of men. He, who through his own fault has lost the way, the Truth and the Divine life, cannot be united with Christ.
As stated above, it is true that the character impressed by Sacred Orders is indelible, the same for a priest as for bishops or the Pope; but the Papacy is only a “jurisdictional” power, inherent in Rome’s Bishopric; it is not supposed to have a sacramental power, other than the one the bishops have. This is the reason why the Pope is “crowned” not consecrated, except if when elected he was not already a bishop. “Sacramental” power remains as long as the consecrated soul remains alive, that is to say, forever; but this is not so with “jurisdictional” power, which is lost when faith is lost, as the Angelic Doctor says.
It is true that, due to the fact that the sacramental power is retained [in the episcopacy], although faith is lost, the heretic bishop, even if he is the Bishop of Rome, can validly, although not licitly, perform certain sacramental acts inherent in his Episcopal consecration, such as conferring sacred orders or consecrating a bishop; both of whom would be validly consecrated, one as a priest and the other as a bishop; nevertheless, we cannot accept jurisdictional power in a heretic Pope, because his elevation to the Papacy was only to gain him Peter’s Chair, the supreme powers that Christ grants to Peter’s successor for the preservation and propagation of His Church. As stated above, a Pope on falling into heresy, invalidly and illicitly performs those acts which require the supreme power of jurisdiction, that he lost forever when he lost the faith, because jurisdictional power does not impress an indelible character.
It is convenient to have very clear ideas in regard to these matters, so we can be free from the blackmail of “obedience” that the “papolatras” [“popaltry”, i.e., Pope worshipers; a.k.a., Pope idolaters-something the Orthodox and Protestants have known for centuries-to which should be added “Papal pornacracy”] want to impose on us, as if worship to the Pope, even if he were a heretic, would be the supreme obligation of Christian life.
Authority and obedience are related. Whenever there is a crisis in authority, there is necessarily a crises in obedience. Because human authority, in whatever it might be, is always dependent upon and subject to the Supreme Authority which it represents, from which it proceeds and from which it can never be emancipated. When a man who is invested with authority in this world (whoever the man and the authority might be) disregards God’s Supreme Authority, when he tries to free himself from His Divine precepts, imposing on his subjects something contradictory to God’s Will, that man becomes deprived of all authority, he does not represent God anymore, he is not supported by God’s authority anymore; he cannot give orders in His Name when he tries to make himself the source of all authority and of all law. “I am the Government.” “I am the law.” “There is no other authority but mine”.
This is despotism, tyranny and abuse of power. And the subjects, upon submitting contrary to their conscience, contrary to the immutable doctrine of Faith, contrary to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church during twenty centuries, against the teachings of all Popes and of all Councils to accept the teachings of the last two Popes [When the author wrote this, he referred to 2nd John 23, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (Tuesday, October 28, 1958 - Monday, June 3, 1963) and Paul 6, Giovanni Battista Montini (Friday, June 21, 1963 - Sunday, August 6, 1978). Note: If the author was still living today, he most probably would also have included their successors, especially JP-1, Albano Luciani (Saturday, August 26, 1978 - Thursday, September 28, 1978) and JP-2, Karol Wyotya (Monday, October 16, 1978 - Friday, April 1, 2005), and the rather cautious Benedict 16, Joseph Ratzinger [Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - present], because they have followed the same polices and practices, and are otherwise consistent with 2nd John 23 and Paul 6, even for the first two who combined their two names into the one name they took-something never done before during the entire history of the Church!] and Vatican 2, without taking into consideration Divine Tradition, they do not obey, they give themselves up; they place man above God.
The obedience that does not place God before the laws and caprices of men, far from being a virtue is cowardice; it is treason to the Lord. This is the reason why St. Peter said: “Obedire oportet Deo, magis quam hominibus”. IT IS NECESSARY TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN.
(Father Joaquin Sáenz y Arriaga, S.J., PhD., Th. D., J.C.D. [b. on Thursday, October 12, 1899 A.D. - d. Wednesday, April 28, 1976 A.D.], SEDE VACANTE - Paul VI is not a legitimate Pope, Chapter 4, Puede un Papa caer en la herejia? - Can A Pope Fall Into Heresy?; most of the emphasis is from the original printed book.)