Can a Pope really ever actually become a heretic, in light of Luk 22:32? No, imo.
#1
Many of us have taken for granted, for now many years perhaps, that Roman Pontiffs can be heretics - some of us may even believe or have believed at one time that many Popes have historically been heretics - but it seems there is a solidly probable and pious belief he never can. Nor is this a private speculation of some Doctors and Saints based on their own lights, but rather it appears directly deduced or immediately inferred, from Sacred Scripture itself, particularly Our Lord's Prayer for St. Peter, that his faith would never fail, so he could confirm the brethren. That is Luk 22:32.

Here is the verse in the Douay: Luk 22: [31] And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: [32] But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. http://www.drbo.org/chapter/49022.htm

I don't agree with this below article in every respect, but imo it makes a good case that such a thing (as also Cardinal Billot argued in the last century), was a pure hypothesis only - it would never become actual, and had never been actual in any historical case (the case of Pope Honorius etc already being answered by St. Alphonsus, St. Robert et al). So, do you think a Pope can be a heretic, or does the charism of unfailing faith ensure that, even as a private person, we can piously believe that he is not able to be a heretic by going pertinaciously against the Faith, as St. Robert says we can?

"St. Bellarmine noted that it was generally agreed in Catholic theology that a pope could hold to material heresy in a private capacity (such as possibly the case with Pope John XXII and Pope Honorius I). (i) But there was no real consensus reached among Catholic theologians as to whether or not a pope could actually fall into formal heresy (and thus lose his office via an automatic excommunication), or actively teach heresy through his authentic Magisterium (thus binding the entire Church to heresy). Both Bellarmine and Suárez speculated about the possibility of an heretical pope, but ultimately concluded that the Roman Pontiff could not fall into formal heresy, because of the Divine assistance offered towards the Successors of St. Peter, which is given in answer to Christ’s prayer for the never failing faith of Peter in Luke 22:31-32:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” ...

According to the Official Relatio of Vatican I, which was issued in an address to the Council Fathers by Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser on 11th July, 1870 (just before voting began on the ratification of Pastor aeternus), the debate concerning the possibility of an heretical pope was about to be definitively settled through the proposed dogmatization of St. Robert Bellarmine’s incisive exposition of the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church:



These things are said about the opinion of Bellarmine. As far as the doctrine set forth in the Draft goes, the Deputation is unjustly accused of wanting to raise an extreme opinion, viz., that of Albert Pighius, to the dignity of a dogma. For the opinion of Albert Pighius, which Bellarmine indeed calls pious and probable, was that the Pope, as an individual person or a private teacher, was able to err from a type of ignorance but was never able to fall into heresy or teach heresy. To say nothing of the other points, let me say that this is clear from the very words of Bellarmine, both in the citation made by the reverend speaker and also from Bellarmine himself who, in book 4, chapter VI, pronounces on the opinion of Pighius in the following words: “It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith.” From this, it appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school, but rather that it is one and the same which Bellarmine teaches in the place cited by the reverend speaker and which Bellarmine adduces in the fourth place and calls most certain and assured, or rather, correcting himself, the most common and certain opinion.(viii)



As we have already noted, although St. Robert Bellarmine had speculated that an heretical pope would be automatically deposed from the papacy, he ultimately concluded that God would never permit this to happen because of the indefectibility of the Church - which was won through Christ’s prayer for the never failing faith of the Successors of St. Peter. St. Bellarmine had highlighted four differing contemporary views on the possibility of the Roman Pontiffs falling into heresy, which can be summarized below as follows:



1) That a pope could teach heresy in the extraordinary and ordinary and universal Magisterium, even when assisted by a general or ecumenical Council.



2) That a pope could be a formal heretic and teach heresy acting alone, without the assistance of a general or ecumenical Council.



3) That a pope could never in “any way be a heretic nor publically teach heresy, even if he alone should define some matter, as Albert Pighius says”.


4) “The fourth opinion is that in a certain measure, whether the Pope can be a heretic or not, he cannot define a heretical proposition that must be believed by the whole Church in any way. This is a very common opinion of all Catholics.” (ix)

Bellarmine went on to conclude:


“From these four opinions, the first is heretical, the second is not properly heretical, for we see that some who follow this opinion are tolerated by the Church, even though it seems altogether erroneous and proximate to heresy. The third is probable, though it is still not certain. The Fourth is very certain and must be asserted and we will state a few propositions so that it can be understood and confirmed more easily...

In his first proposition, St. Bellarmine notes that there were two particular privileges granted for the Petrine office won through Christ’s prayer in Luke 22:31-32:


“One, that he could not ever lose the true faith insofar as he was tempted by the Devil, and that is something more than the gift of perseverance, for he said to persevere even to the end, which although he fell in the meantime, he still rose again in the end and was discovered faithful, since the Lord prayed for Peter that he could not ever fall because he held fast to the faith. The second privilege is that he, as the Pope, could never teach something against the faith, or that there would never be found one in his See who would teach against the true faith.” (xvii)” (x) https://www.lastampa.it/vatican-insider/...1.34082024
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#2
"Both Bellarmine and Suárez speculated about the possibility of an heretical pope, but ultimately concluded that the Roman Pontiff could not fall into formal heresy, because of the Divine assistance offered towards the Successors of St. Peter..."

Thank you, XavierSem. There is a conclusion here that appears inescapable. How good God is. We must pray for the Church.
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#3
Interesting post.

From a side-liner's viewpoint: If a Pope were to act sinfully contrary to the Church's teachings, would not such an action automatically result in (self)excommunication, along the lines of a common Catholic who becomes a Mason?

Just wondering...Hmmm...
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#4
But we do know that a Pope can be wrong, even if he can't bind the Church to it. Pope John XXII argued that the saved do not enjoy the Beatific Vision until the Last Judgment, and his successor defined that as heresy.

Now we have Pope Francis saying the death penalty is 'inadmissible' due to the dignity of the human person. 'Inadmissible', theologically, is meaningless, so he hasn't bound anyone to anything. Maybe that's why the Holy Ghost won't let him say 'intrinsically evil'.
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#5
(02-14-2020, 12:47 PM)Zedta Wrote: From a side-liner's viewpoint: If a Pope were to act sinfully contrary to the Church's teachings, would not such an action automatically result in (self)excommunication, along the lines of a common Catholic who becomes a Mason?

No, because such excommunications are imposed by the law, and Church law doesn't bind the lawgiver. Formal heretics and schismatics do separate themselves from the Church, but the Pope cannot be a schismatic (how could he ever not be in communion with himself?) and formal heresy requires admonition by a superior and a judgment, and nobody except God or a future Pope can judge the Pope. He might be a material heretic, but that's not enough for someone to lose his office.
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#6
It has been beaten to death in other threads that the Supreme Pontiff can indeed be a heretic. There has been more than one who were. What he CANNOT do is bind the Church to heresy ex cathedra. And, IMHO, that is exactly what Our Lord promises Peter in the Gospel according to Luke.
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#7
I disagree.

 It seems empirically obvious, that there are popes whose personal faith has occasionally failed. There are popes who have been material heretics - and assuming a pope was conscious that what he believed was indeed incompatible with the Catholic faith, that would make him a formal heretic (Contra popular opinion, he wouldn't need to formally publicly teach heresy, for it to be formal heresy; he'd just have to pertinaciously cling to the belief, while knowing that it was heresy).

When Our Lord says, "Thy faith will not fail thee," He follows it up about how Simon is gonna have this need to revert, and then, "when" Simon does revert, Simon can then go and strengthen his brothers. Simon, on hearing this, feels the need to protest that he's ready "to go prison or to death." Which indicates that Peter's picking up on this whole, "You will fall away and need to revert," implication.

It seems like Simon's faith will not fail, not in the sense that he will never ever say anything untrue about the Faith, but that, ultimately, his faith will endure long-term, and will be necessary for his brothers, as it is long-term more reliable.

So, will Peter's successors never have failings in faith? They will.
Does this mean that the bishop of Rome is an unreliable authority for strengthening his brothers' faith? No.
Will the office ever be long-term committed to a failure of the true faith? No.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that is my off-the-cuff take.
Interested to hear someone refute my take, though, as I'm not satisfied with it.
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#8
(02-14-2020, 05:24 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: It has been beaten to death in other threads that the Supreme Pontiff can indeed be a heretic. There has been more than one who were. What he CANNOT do is bind the Church to heresy ex cathedra. And, IMHO, that is exactly what Our Lord promises Peter in the Gospel according to Luke.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the Holy Spirit does not overtake someone’s free will.
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#9
I'm just an average layman but these arguments get very legalistic and speculative. I won't forego reason and my conscience.

Pope Francis contradicted the teaching of previous Popes and I'm guessing formal doctrine by changing the death penalty teaching. You can sugarcoat it and say it's developing doctrine or that changing the CCC is not necessarily changing doctrine, or some other rationalization, but to the average Joe it's changed. This tells me previous Popes were wrong or this Pope is wrong.

The ex cathedra argument is fine and dandy, but if little informal changes here and there lead to bigger changes, it's kind of a moot point. I see cultural changes and Bishops ignoring doctrine like it's nothing and Pope Francis, and I'm sure other Popes, have just ignored it. Isn't it heretical to allow souls to be damned if you can do something about it, especially if you're Pope? Isn't the Magisterium supposed to defend the deposit of faith?

End rant.
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#10
(02-15-2020, 11:25 AM)jack89 Wrote: I'm just an average layman but these arguments get very legalistic and speculative.  I won't forego reason and my conscience.

Pope Francis contradicted the teaching of previous Popes and I'm guessing formal doctrine by changing the death penalty teaching. You can sugarcoat it and say it's developing doctrine or that changing the CCC is not necessarily changing doctrine, or some other rationalization, but to the average Joe it's changed.  This tells me previous Popes were wrong or this Pope is wrong.

The ex cathedra argument is fine and dandy, but if little informal changes here and there lead to bigger changes, it's kind of a moot point. I see cultural changes and Bishops ignoring doctrine like it's nothing and Pope Francis, and I'm sure other Popes, have just ignored it.  Isn't it heretical to allow souls to be damned if you can do something about it, especially if you're Pope?  Isn't the Magisterium supposed to defend the deposit of faith?

End rant.

Francis imposed his own opinion on the Church by changing the catechism on capital punishment. The Catechism is supposed to be a concise presentation of the Church’s teachings, not Francis’ review of the Church’s teaching. Now, it clearly isn’t anymore, but who has the courage to denounce him for it?  Who has the courage to not only call him out on it, but to ignore any censures he might try to dish out. We need orthodox shepherds who are lions, and all we get are kittens.
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