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Full Version: A Hypothetical Scenario: What to do with a heretical Pontiff?
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I have heard arguments about the issue of whether a pontiff can become a heretic while on the Petrine Throne. (Remember Liberius, Honorious, John XXII, an alleged letter written by Pius IX to a bishop, and Hadrian VI's thoughts on the matter?

Let's say, for the sake of the argument, that it becomes EXTREMELY, OBJECTIVELY, obvious that a pontiff had publicly stated and supported heresy. Some good examples are: No God, women priests will happen, contraception ok'd, Jesus wasn't God, abortion is morally good, homosexual marriage is legitimate, etc. (It is assumed that ex cathedra was not even used; there was no "We Declare, We Proclaim, We Define..." statement)

Let's also assume that this was given during an interview or a public broadcast anywhere in the world by the pontiff.

Now that seven billion humans have heard these statements from the pontiff and that one Billion of them (actually, several million catholics) were now in agreement of heresy being spewed from the Petrine throne, many questions would now arise:

1) What to do with the Pontiff?
      *Would the College of Cardinals go after him and try to despose of him?
      *Would a public trial occur, despite the world's attention to it in excruciating detail?

2) If no one in the hierarchy does anything, do the laity have a right to do anything about it?
     *If yes, what is the proper course of action? Invasion of Vatican City by sympathetic mercenaries and capture/execution of the hypothetical heretic?

3) If "No" to the previous question, then does it really matter anyway? Is Orthodoxy, Deism, or Nonbelief, the next logical step of reaction?

I'm not trying to play into people's feelings right now, but the recent events have made this hypothetical scenario more possible, even if it has not happened yet.

I'm scared, guys and gals. That's the truth. While almost everyone that I knew growing up has either left the Faith or accepted a schizophrenic version of their own Catholicism, I've been mostly alone in following orders from Rome to the best of my ability because I've always cared and trusted Her.

Now this... this is serious. Never before have I heard a pontiff say so blatantly that "Proselytism is nonsense." You can't twist that. It is what it is.  :((

I would do my best to live a devout, moral life with prayer and Sacraments.  I would leave judgment of the Pope to someone who is qualified to do it.
Honestly, I think that if there are still people who believe in the Catholic faith in the Vatican, and if the pope became one day a heretic, he wouldn't reign a single day longer.

Also, could you provide more details on Pius IX's letter?
(10-01-2013, 01:14 PM)PolishTrad Wrote: [ -> ]Honestly, I think that if there are still people who believe in the Catholic faith in the Vatican, and if the pope became one day a heretic, he wouldn't reign a single day longer.

Also, could you provide more details on Pius IX's letter?

This was the only source I could find:
Just an FYI: here is how the Church has been using the term "proselytism" for a while now (see footnote 49--also, click on the 49 if you want to go to the relevant portion of the CDF document, which is about seeking conversions):

Anyway, the canonists have been talking about the scenario of a Pope falling into heresy for centuries.  A good older book on this is "Papal Liability and Immunity in the Writings of the Medieval Canonists" by James Moynihan.

In general, the consensus is that for the heresy to be sufficient to cause one to leave the Church de facto, it must either be through a public profession of faith in a heretical sect (e.g formally converting to Lutheranism) or a refusal of the infallible teaching authority (e.g Luther buring the Pope's definitive judgments in Exsurge Domine).  It's not just being wrong or believing one's wrong theological deductions are consonant with the Church's judgment when they may not be, etc.

It is the latter kind that the medieval canonists got hung up on when it came to the Pope, since it is easy when a heretic won't accept the contemporary judgment of the Pope against his doctrine, but how could the Pope refuse the infallible teaching authority when he is the contemporary source of it?  They generally agreed that the Pope had to be rejecting a past definitive judgment of the Church--ie something already formally defined, not that he just said something wrong or taught some theological deduction or opinion that theologians thought was not consonant with the faith, but he did (the heresy could not be "new").  He had to be explicitly rejecting the definitive judgment and authority of the Church. 

There was variation on how this was then to be dealt with (judgment passed by the College of Cardinals, by an otherwise General Council, that the College would just elect a new Pope, etc., etc. ).

My opinion is this would be worked out in the particular Church of Rome (whcih includes the Cardinals), since that particular Church cannot fall into error according to the definitive judgment of Sixtus IV and the principle enunciated by St. Iraneaus, that all the Churches should agree with the Church of Rome.  More on this idea here in this old article from 50s:

Heed St. Vincent Lerins:
Quote:"Also in the Catholic Church itself we take great care that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.  For that is truly and properly Catholic, as the very force and meaning of the word shows, which comprehends everything almost universally.  And we shall observe this rule if we follow universality, antiquity, consent.  We shall follow universality if we confess that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is plain that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent if in antiquity itself we eagerly follow the definitions and beliefs of all, or certainly nearly all, priests and doctors alike."

"What, then, will the Catholic Christian do if any part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the Universal Faith?  What surely but prefer the soundness of the whole body to a pestilent and corrupt member?

"What if some novel contagion seek to infect the whole Church, and not merely a small portion of it?  Then he will take care to cling to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any novel deceit.

"What if in antiquity itself error be detected on the part of two or three men, or perhaps of a city, or even of a province?  Then he will look to it that he prefer the decrees of an ancient General Council, if such there be, to the rashness and ignorance of a few.

"But what if some error spring up concerning which nothing of this kind is to be found?  Then he must take pains to find out and compare the opinions of the ancients, provided, of course, that such remained in the communion and faith of the One Catholic Church, although they lived in different times and places, conspicuous and approved teachers; and whatever he shall find to have been held, written and taught, not by one or two only, but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently and persistently, that he must understand is to be believed by himself also without the slightest hesitation."

St. Vincent of Lerins, "The Commonitory," tr. by T. Herbert Bindley (London: SPCK, 1914), book 1, chapter 2, no. 6-8, pp. 26-28.  Emphasis added.
If the Supreme Pontiff is a heretic???

Doesn't anyone believe in the power of the Holy Ghost to protect Christ's Church from contradicting the Word of God anymore?

If we had a bad pope and I mean a terrible pope. One like well...we all know the baddies. What does that have anything to do with personal devotion and seeking to become a saint and martyr??

When I hear this, I think of Jim Cramer when he talks about his time as a Hedge Fund manager when people were panicking about the market, he would always scream "WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE EARNINGS OF BRISTOL-MEYERS!!!??"

It's true, we need to see our own holiness and devotion and those we bring into the Church as a milepost....not who's in charge. Sure it's important, but can we change it? No, but we can affect little things like us and our families and our parish.
Pretty easy.  Follow Tradition. 
(10-01-2013, 02:02 PM)onosurf Wrote: [ -> ]Pretty easy.  Follow Tradition. 
Exactly, as St. Vincent Lerins et al. advise. :)
(10-01-2013, 01:48 PM)austenbosten Wrote: [ -> ]Doesn't anyone believe in the power of the Holy Ghost to protect Christ's Church from contradicting the Word of God anymore?
The Church cannot. If anyone does contradict "the Word of God," he is not representing the Church when he does so. Just like Francis's interviews are materially heretical at best; they do not speak for the Church. The defenders of his  interviews even insist they are fallible!
(10-01-2013, 01:48 PM)austenbosten Wrote: [ -> ]One like well...we all know the baddies.
Are you thinking of Alexander VII? He wasn't that bad at all because he didn't seek to change Church doctrine. Read this.
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