How To Get Rid Of A Heretical Pope

"You aren't the Pope! You are Stan Laurel! Away with this zucchetto!"

“You aren’t the Pope! You are Stan Laurel! Away with this zucchetto!”


And here is the second part of our “Remnant” voyage into the realm of papal heresies: can the church depose a heretical Pope?

“Yes, she can”, is the answer. Follow the link to learn the why and how. An entire section is dedicated to the obvious mistake of the Sedevacantist perception. 

Unfortunately, the absence of a true practical application of the principle (the interesting case of Marcellinius (or Marcellinus) would probably not apply to Francis, and perhaps some will doubt it happened in the first place) makes it very difficult to discern a clear path if Francis were to “go nuclear”.

Say: who would take the initiative of starting the convocation of an ecumenical council? How many bishops would take place? With what money would the entire exercise be financed? How would one know the council is legitimate? 

In practice, I think if Francis were to proclaim even formal heresy he would have perhaps one third of the bishop on his side, and probably much more than that in the West. The initiative would probably start from a dozen or two Cardinals, but then there is the problem of what would happen if Francis were to, say, depose every bishops going to a certain ecumenical or even regional council, or all the Cardinals denouncing his heresies. The bishop’s conferences faithful to him (the usual ones, which are the richest ones) would prevent every money from being used and everyone of their bishops from taking part. We would have a situation of chaos out of which only the determination of the right side would, one day, allow to get out. We would, again, have a situation in which we would have to turn to authentic beacons of Catholicism to tell us that the ecumenical council is in fact suitable for its purpose or not, the Pope validly  declared heretic or not, and so on. 

If push comes to shove, I think what will happen is that a number of Cardinals (a minority, for sure) would (God willing) take the initiative, with a handful of champions like Burke or Pell asking for an abiura from the Pope, and threatening with an ecumenical council to have him deposed if he does not comply. This would carry with him a number (how big?) of bishops, and would then allow to put in motion a mechanism as the one described in the article, though with how many bishops and what kind of controversy (again, if Francis says they are relieved of their office; though obviously he could not relieve them of their sacrament of holy orders) would remain to be seen.

A scenario like the one leading to the abdication of Marcellinius (with an obvious wall of bishops on the right side) is, I think, not realistic. A situation of chaos and prolonged conflict is far more likely. This scenario would, if it were to pass, certainly destroy the reputation of Francis as Pope, and burn to the ground his standing for the following generations; but it does not mean that the Pope would end up being deposed.

Nor can we say that the Holy Ghost would not fail to allow the Church to reach a speedy solution of the controversy, as the example of the Western Schism has already showed to us that the promise of protection does not extend to the absence of a very long uncertainty – at least in the mind of many, even honest Catholics – as to who is the Pope (or whether there is a Pope) in the first place.      

I think, though, that the method used against John XXII (an impressive, if local, body of bishops, religious and theologians poses him in front of the choice between backpedaling and open calls of heresy) would already have a great probability of success, because a vain man like Francis would immediately know that his papacy would go down in flames for the only fact of a doctrinal rebellion against him; even if this rebellion were, for whatever reason, not to translate into his deposition.   

It is, in any way, consoling to know that whatever we will face has been the subject of very long and serious debate in the past. This allows us to put the dramatic age we are living (and deserving to live) in the proper context, without panic or flights into the unreal, only apparent refuge of “siding with the Pope”. 

The Pope sides with atheist journalists, perverted priests and irreligious rock stars. 

If we come to a nuclear scenario, think twice before you side with him. 


Posted on November 20, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I find Siscoe’s earlier essay even more illuminating regarding the case of Pope Francis, Sedevacantism and the Manifest Heretic:

    “The form of heresy – what renders an erroneous belief formally heretical – is pertinacity in the will.  When a person knowingly rejects a dogma of the faith, or when he willfully doubts a defined dogma, he is guilty of formal heresy in the internal forum (the realm of conscience).  And since heresy is contrary to faith, a person who willfully disbelieves a single article of faith immediately loses all supernatural faith.  Just as one mortal sin removes all supernatural charity (grace) from the soul, so too a single heresy removes all supernatural faith.

    St. Thomas: “Just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article… Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article, has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will”. (2)

    A man who is guilty of the sin of heresy immediately loses all supernatural faith; and since faith is the foundation of the supernatural life, when faith is lost, so too are the theological virtues of hope and charity, which, along with faith, unite a man to the soul of the Church.  Therefore, when one loses the faith – the foundation of the supernatural life – he is completely severed from the soul of the Church. 

    However – and this point is important when considering the sedevacantist position – the loss of faith does not, in and of itself, sever a man from the body of the Church.  Let me repeat that: A mortal sin against faith does not, in and of itself, sever a man from the body of the Church.  And if the man who loses the faith happens to be pope, he does not thereby lose his office.  This is a crucial point that is often missed by even the most learned defenders of the sedevacantist position.

    Formal heresy in the internal forum only severs a man from the soul of the Church.  It requires formal heresy in the external forum to sever a man from the body of the Church and, without getting too far ahead of ourselves, formal heresy in the external forum is declared heresy – either declared by the proper authorities, or else “declared” by the individual himself who becomes a notorious and publicly manifest heretic (more on this point later).”

    • I think in popular Italian “fare un casino”, “fare un bordello” would give a good idea. “Casino” is a word for brothel, and those apparently were recklessly noisy places. I am not a native English speaker, so I would not be able to put “raise hell” in the exact context.

  2. Did you notice that Siscoe quotes himself at the beginning of the article?

    Also, he fails to refute what St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, declared:
    “This principle is most certain. The non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan himself admits (ib. c. 26). The reason for this is that he cannot be head of what he is not a member; now he who is not a Christian is not a member of the Church, and a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as is clearly taught by St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2), St. Athanasius (Scr. 2 cont. Arian.), St. Augustine (lib. de great. Christ. cap. 20), St. Jerome (contra Lucifer.) and others; therefore the manifest heretic cannot be Pope.”

    Or what Pope Paul IV decreed:
    “Further, if ever it should appear that any bishop (even one acting as an archbishop, patriarch or primate), or a cardinal of the Roman Church, or a legate (as mentioned above), or even the Roman Pontiff (whether prior to his promotion to cardinal, or prior to his election as Roman Pontiff), has beforehand deviated from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy, We enact, decree, determine and define:

    — “Such promotion or election in and of itself, even with the agreement and unanimous consent of all the cardinals, shall be null, legally invalid and void.

    — “It shall not be possible for such a promotion or election to be deemed valid or to be valid, neither through reception of office, consecration, subsequent administration, or possession, nor even through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff himself, together with the veneration and obedience accorded him by all.

    — “Such promotion or election, shall not through any lapse of tune in the foregoing situation, be considered even partially legitimate in any way . . .

    — “Each and all of the words, as acts, laws, appointments of those so promoted or elected —and indeed, whatsoever flows therefrom — shall be lacking in force, and shall grant no stability and legal power to anyone whatsoever.

    — “Those so promoted or elected, by that very fact and without the need to make any further declaration, shall be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power.”

    If you could provide refutations of the above sources, I’d be happy to read them.


    • As we have already discussed, it’s not that theologians “have to be refuted”, because theologians aren’t authoritative sources.

      The article also makes clear in which sense the encyclicals you mention concerning heresy are interpreted, and why. It also makes the very valid argument that with your reading the many heretical popes would not have been Popes, which again makes the entire history of the Church moot (these popes have appointed Cardinals, who have elected other Popes, etc.).

      You are, I am much afraid, sold to Sedevacantism.


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