Hey, at least they’re trying…
Vatican Theologians reportedly studying what to do about a Heretical Pope
The fireworks just keep on coming. As the reliable Vaticanist Giuseppe Nardi reports today, a 1975 theological study by the learned Brazilian layman Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira is currently making the rounds in the Vatican, and it’s not just any study: It’s a study on whether it is possible for a Pope to be or become a heretic, and if so, what consequences would follow from this.
What might possibly have given occasion for Vatican theologians to occupy themselves with such abstruse thoughts? Have they all gone into studying abstract hypotheses for the sake of sharpening their intellects?
Clearly, Francis’ apostasy is so open now and so far advanced that even the run-of-the-mill Vatican II Modernists in Rome are starting to notice a problem, the never-ending excuses of Francis’ lackeys (such as Jimmy Akin and Dave Armstrong) notwithstanding.
Here is a translation of Nardi’s report on the matter:
… [T]he study “Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope” by the Brazilian jurist Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira is making the rounds in the Vatican, an Italian translation of which was published by Marco Solfanelli last June and which is being studied attentively by theologians and prelates in Rome.
The dubia of the four cardinals are part of a resistance which is expanding more and more and has just passed from its preliminary stage to a new phase. In case Pope Francis does not put an end to the paradox of refusing to clearly avow the unchangeable doctrine of the Church, whose head he is, then the coming months promise to be dramatic.
Three-and-a-half years after the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis is reaching his limits. The impression, given by means of gestures and words, of a latent intention to change the doctrine of the Church must at some point either take on definite form or else it must collapse. Francis finds himself cornered by means of the very atmosphere he himself is responsible for creating. It’s no longer about a spontaneous utterance on this or that, which remains improvised and non-binding. His pastoral work and his leadership skills, which demand a sense of responsibility and an exemplary character, are reaching their limits. This could cause Francis [‘s pontificate] to fail.
(Giuseppe Nardi, “Stößt Papst Franziskus an seine Grenzen? – Amoris laetitia und die Dubia der Kardinäle”, Katholisches.info, Nov. 17, 2016; our translation.)
Let’s have a quick look at the study in question.
The Italian translation of Da Silveira’s monograph is entitled Ipotesi Teologica Di Un Papa Eretico (“The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope”). The work was originally published in Portuguese in 1975 and republished in a new Italian edition just earlier this year — someone obviously saw a high demand for it in the language spoken in and around the Vatican.
An English translation of Da Silveira’s study (by John Russell Spann) has been posted online and is available in paperback:
- The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretic Pope by Arnaldo da Silveira (PDF)
- Can a Pope be … a Heretic? The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope by Arnaldo da Silveira
Da Silveira is not a sedevacantist, although sympathetic to our position. While we do not condemn his study, we also cannot endorse it without qualification. Written in the 1970s, while the infernal Paul VI was running around the Vatican in a white cassock, this book was a good-faith attempt to see if Giovanni Battista Montini’s “pontificate” could perhaps be “saved” by straining orthodoxy to the limits as to what a true Pope could do and teach, grabbing at weak opinions of minor theologians and tenuous hypotheses to do so. But what may perhaps, by using what amounts to no more than a highly unlikely (if not condemned) opinion, have been possible to entertain about Paul VI in 1975, is clearly not credible with regard to the cases of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and especially not Francis, all of which have eclipsed Paul VI in one way or another.
A brief video clip will help underscore what we mean:
One of the fundamental errors many people make in dealing with the question of a “heretical Pope” — a contradiction in terms if there ever was one — is that they confuse the ability to err with the profession of heresy: Just because, strictly speaking, a Pope can err when he is not exercising his infallibility, does not mean he can teach or profess heresy. Not every error is heretical, after all, and in order to be the head of the Church, the Pope must be a member of the Church, one condition for which is the profession of the True Faith (not the inability to err at all times):
Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 22; underlining added.)
Profession of a false faith — which is what heresy is — automatically makes the heretic cease to be a member of the Church: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, n. 23). Infallibility does not even enter into the picture.
In a nutshell: Could a true Pope become a heretic? It would seem not:
The holy Church built upon a rock, that is Christ, and upon Peter or Cephas, the son of John who first was called Simon, because by the gates of Hell, that is, by the disputations of heretics which lead the vain to destruction, it would never be overcome; thus Truth itself promises, through whom are true, whatsoever things are true: “The gates of hell will not prevail against it” [Matt. 16:18]. The same Son declares that He obtained the effect of this promise from the Father by prayers, by saying to Peter: “Simon, behold Satan etc.” [ Luke 23:31]. Therefore, will there be anyone so foolish as to dare to regard His prayer as in anyway vain whose being willing is being able? By the See of the chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the comments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail, been strengthened?
(Pope St. Leo IX, Apostolic Letter In Terra Pax Hominibus, Ch. 7; Denz. 351; underlining added.)
For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].
So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.
(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; Denz. 1836-37; underlining added.)
Although the Church has never definitively settled the matter directly, the preponderance of the evidence strongly suggests that it is not possible for a true Pope to ever become a heretic — which means that the Vatican II “popes”, who were heretics indeed, were never true Popes for even one instance, and this is nowhere as obvious as in the case of “Pope” Francis. But in any case, even if it were possible for a true Pope to become a heretic, as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches, he would immediately by that very fact alone and without a declaration, cease to be Pope.
For all who are looking for some in-depth clarity on the issue, we recommend the following links:
- Vatican I and the Question of a Heretical Pope
- No one can judge the Pope: What it does — and doesn’t — mean
- St. Robert Bellarmine on whether a Heretical Pope could be deposed
- St. Robert Bellarmine on whether a Pope can become a Heretic
- Does it simply “not matter” if Francis is a valid Pope? Oh yes, it does!
- Comedy Hour at The Remnant: Is Francis the Pope until a future Pope says he’s not?
- The “Heretical” Popes of History, Part 1: Adrian VI
- A Response to Mundabor on the Papacy
- Have the Gates of Hell prevailed? The Papacy & Sedevacantism
- Sedevacantism and Private Judgment: Are Sedevacantists just a bunch of “Protestants”?
- Papal Error? A Defense of Popes said to have erred in Faith by Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine
Whatever conclusions the Modernist Vatican theologians may actually come to after pondering and studying the Pope-heretic question, it’s almost beside the point, at least for now. The big story here right now is that Novus Ordo authorities inside the Vatican are seriously raising the question of whether the Papacy is compatible with the idea of public heresy — for the obvious reason that the man they consider the Pope is a blatant heretic, and it can simply be denied no longer.
Displeasure and uneasiness about Francis has been felt in the Vatican for a while now. Recall that over a year ago, after the papal pretender gave the go-ahead for easy and free drive-thru marriage annulments, it was reported that there was an anti-Francis dossier circulating in the Vatican curia that accused him of introducing “Catholic divorce”. So, let’s see how all this plays out. Remember, too, that they still have a “backup” on the premises, the so-called “Pope Emeritus” Benedict XVI. Don’t discount him entirely just yet — this whole resignation business doesn’t seem to be quite “finished” yet.
Now just wait till someone in the Vatican figures out that the Swiss Guards have the power to expel Francis from the premises and put him on a flight back to Buenos Aires…
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