“If A Pope Would Formally Profess Heresy He Would Cease, By That Act, To Be The Pope”
Pretty strong words from Cardinal Burke in a new interview clearly meant to increase the pressure on Pope Francis to at least publicly declare he is Catholic, and avoid worse trouble.
The words that define the interview and send the clear message to Francis are the following ones:
If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope
Naturally, and pretty much in style, Cardinal Burke goes on reassuring us of how much he likes Pope Francis, & Co. (this always surprises me; an obviously extremely grumpy, cantankerous, nasty, boorish and permanently insulting man appears to be liked by everyone. One wonders…). But the issue here is not of peoples, but of truths.
In another interview, it was indicated that the formal correction of Amoris Laetitia could appear in January, and would remain limited to correcting the document itself, not declaring the Pope a heretic (yours truly reported). Cardinal Burke is now sending a first message about what could happen after that correction.
It is, in fact, difficult to believe that the Cardinals would issue a formal correction of the Pope’s document as clearly heretical and, after a certain time has elapsed, would refuse to draw the conclusion that the Pope who still insists in not condemning the errors is himself a heretic.
Amoris Laetitia is, however you see his magisterial rank (the position of cardinal Burke that it hasn’t any was, of course, negated by the very act of posing the Dubia), a document Pope Francis has signed and for which he must answer. There is no way to deflect the accusations by saying that he doesn’t remember what he has written, or was drinking too much mate, or was in the bathroom when the document was released.
Every day that Francis avoids answering the Dubia, he digs a bigger hole for himself. He should swallow this bullfrog, lose face, and save what has left of his papacy, truly south-american in the scale of its failure.
What happens now is one of those multiple possibilities with the “inverted tree” diagram I cannot draw here.
The correction is issued, or not. If it is not issued the laity will keep condemning, and the Cardinals will keep shutting up. If it is issued the Pope will have two alternatives: finally answer the Dubia or further refuse to do so. If he answers the Dubia he will most certainly answer them in the proper way, and this particular matter at least will be settled. If he does not answer them the Cardinals will, once again, have the choice between shutting up and declaring him heretical and having “ceased to be Pope”. If the Pope is declared such, either nothing will happen (most bishops and cardinals simply refuse to enter the controversy and simply wait for the heretical Pope to die, as already happened for Honorius) and the not-anymore-Pope remains in office as a sort of Vatican squatter, or the “bishop against bishop” scenario sets in, and we have a number of Cardinals and a greater number of bishops willing to see this to its end. In this last scenario an imperfect, extraordinary council would be convened (say, in a place like Poland; or, more probably, Rome), at the end of which the pope would be declared a heretic in the same way as a murdered is declared a murdered when he is condemned, though in a factual sense he was a murderer the moment he committed the murder. The “inverted tree” can go on for very long, but at this point I think Francis would be told very clearly he either resigns or the cardinals and bishops kick him out with vast majority and physically remove him from office, after which a heresy trial begins.
It is sad to say that, as I write this, the most probable hypothesis still seems to be the first one: the Cardinals do not follow through, and the matter dies here.