7 Apr 2017

Defection from the Faith & the Church - Faith , Heresy, and Loss of Office - An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza & Robert Siscoe Part III

Fr. Paul Kramer B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L. (Cand.)

THE FIVE OPINIONS ON A HERETICAL POPE

SECTION I – HERETICS

The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics
in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus.

“Moreover, we determine to subject to excommunication believers who receive, defend or support heretics… If however, he is a cleric, let him be deposed from every office and benefice, so that the greater the fault the greater the punishment. If any refuse to avoid such persons after they have been pointed out by the Church [postquam ab ecclesia denotati fuerint], let them be punished with the sentence of excommunication until they make suitable satisfaction. Clerics should not, of course, give the sacraments of the Church to such pestilent persons nor give them a Christian burial…” (Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 3, On Heretics. Pope Innocent III. 1215).

Protestant heretics praying for "Pope" Francis.
In addressing the question of the possibility of a heretical pope, and if possible, could such a pope be deposed or judged by the Church, one must first distinguish the various senses in which the term “heretic” has been employed by ecclesiastical writers. Giuseppe de Luca[1] explains that the term «heresy» (αἴρεσις) which denotes a choice, selection, election, or a preference for one position rather than another, was a term used in classical Greek; and in Alexandrian Greek it began to be typically applied to philosophical, political, and religious doctrines. In Josephus Flavius, it already acquired the meaning of “sect”, although without any connotation of condemnation or disapproval. In the New Testament, the word αἴρεσις occurs nine times, and the word αίρετικός, once, and the connotation in which it is used is always one of condemnation and reproach. In 1 Cor. 11:19, there already appears to be a clear distinction between heresy and schism, and throughout the New Testament, its signification is one of heinously grievous culpability. In Acts 24:14, St. Paul rejects the Jewish attribution of the term to the nascent Christianity of the Church.

St. Irenaeus gave the term a more widespread usage due to his work, Adversus Haereses, in which he referred to the Catholic doctrine as “orthodox”, and the Gnostic beliefs (Valentinians, Marcosians, etc.) as “heresy”. The term gained more precision during the period of the Apostolic Fathers, and was properly defined by Tertullian in Chapter VI of De Praescriptione, in which he explains the Greek origin of the term, and contrasts the self-condemnation of the heretic by his willful choice of doctrines in opposition to the teaching of the Apostles, which was not the result of their choice or preference, but was received from Christ and faithfully transmitted to the nations; and therefore, if an angel from heaven should preach a different Gospel, he would be anathematized. (haereses dictae graeca uoce ex interpretatione electionis qua quis maxime siue ad instituendas siue ad suscipiendas eas utitur. [3] Ideo et sibi damnatum dixit haereticum quia et in quo damnatur sibi elegit. Nobis uero nihil ex nostro arbitrio inducere licet sed nec eligere quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit. [4] Apostolos Domini habemus auctores qui nec ipsi quicquam ex suo arbitrio quod inducerent, elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter nationibus adsignauerunt. [5] Itaque etiamsi angelus de caelis aliter euangelizaret, anathema diceretur a nobis.).
                            
I have explained in Part I the Catholic teaching on heresy, and present here what is the most common definition of heresy, given by A. Michel in the Dictionnarire de théologie catholique[2], where it is said of heresy that, “It is a doctrine that immediately, directly, and contradictorily opposes the truths revealed by God and authentically set forth as such by the Church.” In his above cited article, de Luca sums up the distinctions commonly made by theologians in their works, between the “internal” and “external” heretic, the former keeps the heresy within himself, the latter manifests it to others; the external heretic is “occult” (secret) who manifests the heresy to only a few (or even to no one, but commits external acts of heresy), and “public” if the heresy is manifested to a sufficient number of persons. There is also the distinction between “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; material when one denies or doubts an article of faith without being aware of denying or doubting an article of faith, or does it without obstinacy or full consent of the will; formal when it is done with full knowledge and deliberation. De Luca, in 1932, rightly mentions that the distinction between formal and material heretics is of the maximum importance, and gave the common understanding of them. Quoting a 21stCentury author, Wikipedia also defines these terms according to what is the common understanding of these terms today: «In traditional Catholic theology, the term material heresy refers to an opinion that is objectively contradictory to the teachings of the Church, and as such heretical, but which is uttered by a person without the subjective knowledge of its being so. A person who holds a material heresy may therefore not be a "heretic" in the strict sense. Material heresy is distinguished from "formal heresy", i.e. a heretical opinion proposed deliberately by a person who is aware of its being against the doctrine of the Church.»[3]

I have given particular emphasis to express what is even today the commonly understood distinctions between the terms “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; as well as “internal” and “external” heresy, because the common understanding of the terms is firmly rooted in Catholic traditional usage. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have deviated from the signification of these terms as they have traditionally been understood for centuries in Catholic theology, (calling the traditional scholastic usage of the term ‘material heretic’ “perverted”), and have made use of the relatively recent and novel definition of “material heretic”; as well as inventing their own deviant and totally erroneous distinction between external and internal heresy, in order to more persuasively argue their own heretical doctrines. Most notably, as I pointed out in Part I of this article, Salza & Siscoe have used their deviant understanding of the “sin of heresy”, to make it appear that the external sin of heresy pertains to the internal forum as an “externalized internal sin”, which (according to their convoluted heretical reasoning) by itself, suapte natura, does not separate the heretic from the body of the Church, but only does so after judgment has been pronounced on the “crime of heresy” by Church authority. It is the matter and not the form which determines whether heresy is an internal or external; and it is the form or lack thereof, and not the matter which determines whether the sin is pertincious, merely culpable but not pertinacious, or inculpable (i.e. material sin). Salza & Siscoe have totally distorted the Catholic doctrine on heresy by speaking of “the internal sin of heresy that the person manifests to many by his external actions (but actions that are not public heresy, as such […]). These external actions are what lead others to conclude that he is guilty of the sin of heresy.” The error of formal heresy is culpable and pertinacius; the error of material heresy is not pertinacious, but in both cases, it is the matter alone that determines whether the sin is internal or external. It is not the form that determines whether a sin is internal or external. Such a totally muddled notion of internal and external sin of heresy as expounded by John Salza and Robert Siscoe is worthy of the Dictionary of Voodoo Theology, but Salza and Siscoe attempt to convince their readers that their heretically errant theological deviations are faithful to the magisterium of the Church.

So, having given what is the common understanding of heresy and the distinctions related to it, I will proceed to demonstrate that these terms as they are commonly understood, faithfully represent the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus, and the theologians who have followed their teaching for centuries. Only then will it be precisely understood what is meant by the terms, “manifest heretic” and “heretical pope”.

Salza, ignorantly challenging me on the definition of the term, "material heretic" wrote to me on 12 July 2014: «An ignorant Catholic is not a heretic (formal or material) because he possesses divine faith and is invincibly ignorant of his heresy through no fault of his own. A material heretic is also invincibly ignorant of his heresy, but does not possess divine faith, thus rendering him a material heretic.» Trying to express their doctrine with at least some semblance of theological coherence, Salza and Siscoe resort to the weakest of arguments, the argument from authority – not the magisterial authority of the Church, which is the strongest argument in theology, but the private authority of an “expert witness”, writing on their website:

«What we see is that Fr. Kramer understands the term “material heretic” to refer to Catholics – “faithful sons of the Church” – who err materially in good faith.  He says that such persons are only material heretic (sic) since they do not “prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church.” But is this the correct use of the term “material heretic,” or has Fr. Kramer “entirely perverted” the “legitimate use of the expression”?  We will allow Cardinal Billot to answer this question for us.

In the following citation, we will see that, according to one of the greatest Thomists of the 20th Century, a material heretic is not a Catholic who errs in good faith, but rather a non-Catholic – that is, one who has chosen something other than the Church’s Magisterium as his rule of faith (e.g., the “bible alone”, a local Protestant minister, etc.).

Here is Cardinal Billot’s definition of a material heretic and a formal heretic:

Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi: "Heretics are divided into formal and material. Formal heretics are those to whom the authority of the Church is sufficiently known; while material heretics are those who, being in invincible ignorance of the Church herself, in good faith choose some other guiding rule. So the heresy of material heretics is not imputable as sin and indeed it is not necessarily incompatible with that supernatural faith which is the beginning and root of all justification. For they may explicitly believe the principal articles, and believe the others, though not explicitly, yet implicitly, through their disposition of mind and good will to adhere to whatever is sufficiently proposed to them as having been revealed by God. In fact they can still belong to the body of the Church by desire and fulfill the other conditions necessary for salvation. Nonetheless, as to their [i.e., the material heretics] actual incorporation in the visible Church of Christ, which is our present subject, our thesis makes no distinction between formal and material heretics [in other words, neither material or formal heretics are members of the visible Church], understanding everything in accordance with the notion of material heresy just given, which indeed is the only true and genuine one. For, if you understand by the expression material heretic one who, while professing subjection to the Church's Magisterium in matters of faith [i.e. a professing Catholic], nevertheless still denies something defined by the Church because he did not know it was defined, or, by the same token, holds an opinion opposed to Catholic doctrine because he falsely thinks that the Church teaches it, it would be quite absurd to place material heretics outside the body of the true Church; but on this understanding the legitimate use of the expression would be entirely perverted. For a material sin is said to exist only when what belongs to the nature of the sin takes place materially, but without advertence or deliberate will. But the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium and this does not take place in the case, since this is a simple error of fact concerning what the rule dictates. And therefore there is no scope for heresy, even materially" (Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi). »

Firstly, Cardinal Billot, in this passage cited by Salza & Siscoe, errs on the nature of heresy by confusing the generic nature of infidelity, common to apostasy and heresy, with the specific nature of heresy. It is not that, “the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium”, as Billot asserts, but heresy consists in the obstinate denial or doubt of some article of faith. Following the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus states the definition of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit» Thus, the nature of heresy is 1) the pertinacious error of the intellect against faith, 2) in one who has received the faith. St. Alphonsus distinguishes between the matter and the form of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit. ... Unde patet, ad Hæresim, ut et Apostasiam, duo requiri, 1. Judicium erroneum, quod est ejus quasi materiale. 2. Pertinaciam; quae est quasi formale. Porro pertinaciter errare non est hic acriter, et mordicus suum errorem tueri; sed est eum retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat»[4]. Thus, the matter is the erroneous judgment, and the form is the pertinacity. Accordingly therefore, the material heretic is one who is not ignorant of the Church herself, but is one of her own who is ignorant of her teaching.  None of those among the baptized who have reached the age of judgment, and who deny some article of faith, while professing some other creed or rule of faith, are, according to traditional Catholic usage, called “material heretics”, but are simply referred to as “heretics”; since, according to Canon Law and scholastic theology, they are rightly understood not to have the Catholic faith.

The opinion that there can be adult "material heretics" with faith and justifying grace, but in invincible ignorance, as members of non-Catholic sects who do not know the Church, seems scarcely believable, smacks of heresy; and is refuted by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who explains that, "unbelievers who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace, still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted." [5] Thus, Bishop George Hay expounds on those who say invincible ignorance will save a man, «will bring him to salvation;" saying, "[T]hey suppose that a man may be a member of the true Church in the sight of God, though not born with her in communion, as all baptised children are, though born in heresy, at least till they come to the age of judging for themselves. Their mistake here lies in not reflecting that all adults who are in a false religion, can be members of the Church in the sight of God, in no other sense than those were of whom our Saviour says, "Other sheep I have who are not of this fold." But as he expressly declares, that it was necessary to bring even those to the communion of the Church; this evidently shows that they and all such are not members of the Church in such a way as that they can be saved in their present state without being joined in her communion. »[6]

Of those who deny some article of faith, but who profess themselves to be Catholics and members of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas makes the distinction between such persons, some of whom, who might be called heretics either because they err solely from ignorance, who are therefore not excommunicated; and others who, because erring through obstinacy and trying to subvert others, then fall under the excommunication latae sententiae: «Sed numquid ex hoc sunt excommunicati omnes haeretici? Videtur quod non, quia dicitur Tit. III, 10: haereticum hominem post primam et secundam correctionem devita, et cetera. Respondeo. Dicendum est, quod haereticus potest dici aliquis, vel quia simpliciter errat ex ignorantia, et ex hoc non est excommunicatus; vel quia errat ex pertinacia et alios nititur pervertere, et tunc incurrit in canonem latae sententiae.»[7] Since St. Thomas speaks in this passage of canonical warnings and the ecclesiastical censure of excommunication, he is clearly not speaking of persons who are members of some non-Catholic sect who have never known the Church, but distinguishes here between Catholics who become formal heretics, and incur the excommunication; and those Catholics whom he calls “heretics”, but who err against the faith in ignorance as merely material heretics: “It is to be said that one can be called a heretic because he simply errs out of ignorance, and therefore is not excommunicated.” Such an ignorant Catholic, who errs out of ignorance, and who therefore does not incur the excommunication, is called a “heretic”, but not properly in the sense of a ‘formal heretic’, who “errs out of pertinacity and tries to pervert others”, and therefore is not properly a heretic, but is called a ‘material heretic’ in traditional Catholic usage. From this passage of the Angelic Doctor alone, one sees how far the Cardinal Billot drifted away from the doctrine of St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus on heresy.

Salza & Siscoe are quite unaware of the fact that it is precisely because the material heretic retains the formal cause of faith, that he still has the Catholic faith, and is not one who is ignorant of the Church. The material heretic believes in revelation on divine authority, and does not reject the formal cause of faith -- "supernaturalis enim virtus fidei causam formalem habet, Dei revelantis auctoritatem” (Pius XI - Mortalium Animos).

The material heretic believes in the authority of the Church, accepts the authority of the revealing God, professes the Creed, and thus does not reject the formal object of faith, but, errs ignorantly on some matter of faith, being unaware that his opinion materially opposes some truth of revelation. Such a one still adheres to the formal object of faith, but it is the formal heretic who rejects the infallible rule of faith: “Formale autem obiectum fidei est veritas prima secundum quod manifestatur in Scripturis sacris et doctrinae Ecclesiæ. Unde quicumque non inhæret, sicut infallibili et divinæ regulæ, doctrinæ Ecclesiæ, quæ procedit ex veritate prima in Scripturis sacris manifestata, ille non habet habitum fidei, sed ea quae sunt fidei alio modo tenet quam per fidem.”[8] The material heretic adheres formally to the doctrine of the Church as an infallible and divine rule, assenting on divine authority to the divinely revealed truths, but errs objectively in ignorance regarding the matter of some article(s) of faith. “[W]hoever does not adhere to the doctrine of the Church, as an infallible and divine rule does not have the habit of faith, but holds to matters of faith in some other manner than by faith.”

The material heretic retains the formal cause of the virtue of faith, because the form of heresy which is contrary to that virtue is absent in material heretics, who do not err out of pertinacity, but out of simplicity or ignorance, as Reiffenstuel explains, "Hæretici materiales (qui autem iuxta S. Augustinum . . . nequaquam sunt inter hæreticos deputandi) dicuntur illi, qui non ex malo animo aut pertinacia, sed ex simplicitate, aut defectu debitæ informationis, errant circa Fidem."[9]  Hence, as Abbé F.X. de Feller states, material heretics remain faithful sons of the Church: "Gli eretici materiali sono figliuoli della chiesa."[10]

Those who because of simplicity and ignorance err materially do not deliberately prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church, in which consists the sin of infidelity and the form of heresy, as St. Alphonsus explains: "Porro pertinaciter errare (quæ est formale) . . . est eum [errorem] retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat”. Therefore it is only the formal heretic who is properly called a heretic because he has defected from the faith by refusing to believe what he knows to be the faith of the universal Church, and thus no longer has the virtue of faith -- but the material heretic still has divine and Catholic faith but errs out of ignorance. Material heresy is properly a “material sin”. The term, "material sin" is defined by St. Alphonsus de Liguori as an action that would be matter of sin but without the knowledge of the law, and therefore inculpable: "il peccato materiale non è altro, che un'azione che sarebbe materia di peccato, se vi fosse la cognizione della legge, ma essendo la legge invincibilmente ignota . . . la trasgressione non è colpevole."[11] Hence, "material heresy" is the inculpable, or at least not gravely culpable act of heresy, because of ignorance, and thus “material heretics” accordingly defined and distinguished from “formal heretics” by theologians: "Qui cum sua culpa veritatem de fide negant, formales haeretici vocantur, qui id sine sua culpa faciunt, materiales haeretici dicuntur."[12] (Those who culpably deny a truth of faith are called formal heretics, those who do so without fault are said to be material heretics.)
    
The error of material heresy is not always entirely inculpable, but can be culpable and vincible, but without pertinacity, as moral theologian, Patrick Sporer explains the three degrees of material heresy: "Et quia illa ignorantia, vel error potest esse, aut inculpabilis, aut culpabilis & vincibilis, eaque vel levis, vel lata, crassa, supina, vel denique etiam affectata, & directe voluntaria, ideo triplicis gradus distingui possunt hæretici materiales." [13]
    
Thus, with a clear understanding of heresy as understood according to the mind of the Church, we can safely proceed to the exposition of the five opinions on the question of the deposition of a heretic pope.

Defection from the Faith & the Church - Faith , Heresy, and Loss of Office  - An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza & Robert Siscoe Part III

SECTION TWO

The eminent canonists Wernz and Vidal outline the five opinions[14]:

«Concerning this matter there are five Opinions of which the first denies the hypothesis upon which the entire question is based, namely that a Pope even as a private doctor can fall into heresy. This opinion although pious and probable cannot be said to be certain and common. For this reason the hypothesis is to be accepted and the question resolved. »

« A second opinion holds that the Roman Pontiff forfeits his power automatically even on account of occult heresy. This opinion is rightly said by Bellarmine to be based upon a false supposition, namely that even occult heretics are completely separated from the body of the Church. »

«The third opinion thinks that the Roman Pontiff does not automatically forfeit his power and cannot be deprived of it by deposition even for manifest heresy. This assertion is very rightly said by Bellarmine to be "extremely improbable".»

«The fourth opinion, with Suarez, Cajetan and others, contends that a Pope is not automatically deposed even for manifest heresy, but that he can and must be deposed by at least a declaratory sentence of the crime. "Which opinion in my judgment is indefensible" as Bellarmine teaches. »

« Finally, there is the fifth opinion - that of Bellarmine himself - which was expressed initially and is rightly defended by Tanner and others as the best proven and the most common. For he who is no longer a member of the body of the Church, i.e. the Church as a visible society, cannot be the head of the Universal Church. But a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church. Therefore he would also cease by that very fact to be the head of the Church.»

They state their own position on the question: « By heresy which is notorious and openly made known. The Roman Pontiff should he fall into it is by that very fact even before any declaratory sentence of the Church deprived of his power of jurisdiction. » And conclude, « Indeed, a publicly heretical Pope, who, by the commandment of Christ and the Apostle must even be avoided because of the danger to the Church, must be deprived of his power as almost all admit. But he cannot be deprived by a merely declaratory sentence... Wherefore, it must be firmly stated that a heretical Roman Pontiff would by that very fact forfeit his power. Although a declaratory sentence of the crime which is not to be rejected in so far as it is merely declaratory would be such, that the heretical Pope would not be judged, but would rather be shown to have been judged. »

Similarly, Eduardus F. Regatillo: “The Roman Pontiff ceases in office: . . . (4) Through notorious public heresy? Five answers have been given: 1. ‘The pope cannot be a heretic even as a private teacher.’ A pious thought, but essentially unfounded. 2. ‘The pope loses office even through secret heresy.’ False, because a secret heretic can be a member of the Church. 3. ‘The pope does not lose office because of public heresy.’ Objectionable. 4. ‘The pope loses office by a judicial sentence because of public heresy.’ But who would issue the sentence? The See of Peter is judged by no one (Canon 1556). 5. ‘The pope loses office ipso facto because of public heresy.’ This is the more common teaching, because a pope would not be a member of the Church, and hence far less could be its head.”[15]

The doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine is of the greatest importance the Church’s teaching on the papacy, since the First Vatican Council to a great extent based its doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff on his doctrine. Pope Pius XI declared in Providentissimus Deus,«But it is an outstanding achievement of St Robert, that the rights and privileges divinely bestowed upon the Supreme Pontiff, and those also which were not yet recognised by all the children of the Church at that time, such as the infallible magisterium of the Pontiff speaking ex cathedra, he both invincibly proved and most learnedly defended against his adversaries. Moreover he appeared even up to our times as a defender of the Roman Pontiff of such authority that the Fathers of the [1870] Vatican Council employed his writings and opinions to the greatest possible extent. »[16] Particularly concerning the primacy of the pope, Bellarmine’s doctrine during his lifetime on the absolute injudicability of the pope while still in office had not yet been adopted by the First Vatican Council, which definitively settled and closed the question forever in a solemn decree of the extraordinary magisterium; but was still treated as an open question by theologians in Bellarmine’s day. Similarly it can also be said about his doctrine on the loss of office in specific relation to the pronouncement on the nature of heresy by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, in which is set forth more definitively the doctrine of the universal magisterium, but not ex cathedra, that heresy suapte natura severs the heretic from the body of the Church – in both cases Bellarmine demonstrated that these not yet solemnly defined teachings were already fulfilling the criteria of de fide doctrines of the universal and ordinary magisterium (what Ballerini called “manifest dogma” of the Church as distinguished from “defined dogma” of the extraordinary magisterium). So, while the five opinions were all accorded various degrees of legitimacy by theologians in the Seventeenth Century, and were at least tolerated by the magisterium, the same can no longer be said today of the third and fourth opinions, since there have been subsequent magisterial pronouncements which render them untenable and therefore theologically antiquated. I have already explained the doctrinally problematic nature of the second opinion earlier in this work; so that leaves us with only the first and fifth opinions as theologically viable and legitimate. Thus, having given ample consideration to the fifth opinion earlier, I will focus here primarily on the first opinion, and Bellarmine’s analysis of the fourth opinion in the next section, in which he provides his theological foundation for the fifth opinion.

First to be considered is in what manner a pope can be considered to be a heretic. The question is whether a pope can properly be a heretic; that is, a formal heretic, since all, Catholics and non-Catholics, says Bellarmine in Book IV Chapter II of De Romano Pontifice, are in agreement that a pope can be materially in heresy due to ignorance: «Posse pontificem ut privatum Doctorem errare, etiam in quaestionibus juris universalibus, tam Fidei, quam morum, idque ex ignorantia, ut aliis Doctoribus interdum accidit. »  The Holy Doctor then focuses on four opinions:

«Prima (sententia) est, Pontificem etiam ut Pontificem, etiamsi cum generali Concilio definiret aliquid, posse esse haereticum in se, & docere alios haeresim, & de facto ita aliquando accidisse. Haec est haereticorum omnium huius temporis, et praecipue Lutheri […] & Calvini»

This opinion, says Bellarmine, that the pope can himself be heretical and teach others heresy, even when defining with an ecumenical council, and that this has actually happened, is the opinion of all heretics, and particularly of Luther and Calvin.

«Secunda sententia est, Pontificem ut Pontificem, posse esse haereticum, & docere haeresim, si absque generali Concilio definiat, & de facto aliquando accidisse. Hanc opinionem sequitur, & tuetur Nilus in suo libro adversus primatum papae: […] & Hadrianus VI. Papa in quaest. de confirm.; qui omnes non in Pontifice, sed in Ecclesia sive in Concilio generali tantum, constituunt infallibillitatem iudicii de rebus Fidei.»

The second opinion is that the pope can be a heretic and teach heresy, if he defines without a general council, because infallibility in matters of faith and morals pertains not to the pontiff but to the Church in a general council; and he mentions that this was the opinion of Pope Adrian VI.

«Tertia sententia est in alio extremo, Pontificem non posse ullo modo esse haereticum, nec docere publice haeresim, etiamsi solus rem aliquam definiat. Ita Albertus Pighius lib. 4. Hier.  Eccles. Cap. 8»

The third opinion is of the opposite extreme, that of Albert Pighius, which holds that a pope cannot in any manner be a heretic, nor teach heresy, even when defining by himself.

«Quarta sententia est quodammodo in medio. Pontificem, sive haereticus esse possit, sive non, non posse ullo modo definire aliquid haereticum a tota Ecclesia credendum: haec est comunissima opinion fere omnium Catholicorum»

The fourth opinion occupies the middle ground; the pope, regardless of whether or not he can be a heretic, cannot in any manner define something heretical for the whole Church to believe – and this opinion, says the Holy Doctor, is the most common opinion among all Catholics.

He then pronounces his verdict on each of the four opinions: «Ex his quatour opinionibus prima est haeretica; secunda non est proprie haeretica: nam adhuc videmus ab Ecclesia tolerari, qui illam sententiam sequuntur; tamen videtur omnino erronea & haeresi proxima; tertia probabilis est, non tamen certa; quarta certissima est et asserenda, ac ut ea facilius intelligi & confirmari possit, statuemus aliquot propositiones. »

The first, he says, is heretical; the second, while not properly heretical, because the Church still tolerates (i.e. in Bellarmine’s day) those who follow this opinion; but it appears to be entirely erroneous and proximate to heresy; the third is probable; the fourth is most certain and is to be held. Since the definition of Vatican I on papal infallibility, the second opinion is now to be judged as heretical, and the fourth as de fide definita.

In Book II Chapter XXX of De Romano Pontifice, Bellarmine proposes the solution to the question on whether a heretic pope can be deposed. He first states the thesis: “A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.” (Pontifex in casu haeresis potest ab Ecclesia judicari, et deponi, up patet distinct. 40. Can. Si Papa. Igitur, Pontifex est subjectus humano judicio, saltem in aliquot casu.); and then introduces his response, saying there are five opinions on this matter.

The Holy Doctor’s response to the first opinion is brief and plainly stated in the original Latin, and in the precise English translation of Ryan Grant: «Prima est Alberti Pighii lib. 4 cap. 8 hierarchiae Ecclesiasticae; ubi contendit, Papam non posse esse haereticum, proinde nec deponi in ullo casu; quae sententia probabilis est, & defendi potest facile, ut postea suo loco ostendemus».[17] What he means by “in its proper place”, is Book Four Chapter Six & Seven of the same work. There Bellarmine explains:  1) «Nam Pontifex non solum non debet, nec potest haeresim praedicare, sed etiam debet veritatem semper docere, & sine dubio id faciet, cum Dominus illi jusserit confirmare fratres suos, & propterea addiderit, Rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, idest, ut saltem non deficiat in throno tuo praedicatio verae Fidei: at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? Potest quidem Deus ex corde haeretico extorquere verae Fidei confessionem, sicut  verba posuit quondam in ore asinae Balaam: at violentum erit, & non secundum morem providentiae Dei suaviter disponentis omnia. »[18]

The question, «at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? » (How, I ask, will a heretical Pope confirm the brethren in faith and always preach the true faith?), is of the greatest importance, because faith, (as Bellarmine explains in Book II Ch. XXX on the fourth opinion), which is the necessary disposition to retain the form of the supreme pontificate, would be utterly lacking in a heretic, who therefore would be incapable of preserving the form of the papacy in himself, and would therefore cease to be pope straightaway. A heretic would necessarily cease to be pope because even if he were only externally a member of the Church, he would lack faith as the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility, since Christ did not confer a magical power of infallibility on Peter (and his successors), but He conferred on him the gift of unfailing faith as the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility. Then there is the further consideration, as, Bellarmine remarks, “Certainly God can wrench the confession of the true faith out of the heart of a heretic just as he placed the words in the mouth of Balaam’s ass. Still, this will be a great violence, and not in keeping with the providence of God that sweetly disposes all things”; but such a confession would not require, nor would proceed from unfailing faith as the disposition on which the exercise of the charism of Infallibility is  based and in which it is rooted; and it would be contrary to the nature of man which is constituted of free will, and therefore would not be a human act proceeding from the soul as the principle of the operation of the exercise of a charism – the exercise of the supernatural charism of infallibly confessing the true faith, given by Christ as the free and infallible exercise of that charism hinged upon and rooted in the virtue of unfailing faith as its necessary disposition. If God were to wrench the confession of the true faith out of a heretic in whom faith is absent, that heretic would not be exercising the charism of Infallibility any more than the ass of Balaam was exercising the prophetic charism, because the act would not proceed from the soul as its principle making use of the organs of speech, exercising the faculty of speech, but God would be using the mouth of the heretical Pontiff in the same manner that He used the mouth of the ass, which did not possess the faculty of speech.[19](Numbers 22: 28 – 30)

Faith would be utterly unnecessary for a Pontiff to profess the faith infallibly in such a manner as that; and therefore the grace of unfailing faith, which was promised by Christ to the Pontiff precisely for the purpose of enabling him to confirm the faith of his brethren, would have been given by Christ to serve no purpose, and would be utterly superfluous if the confirmator fratrum could exercise the charism of Infallibility with no faith at all; but since Christ gave to Peter and his succors the gift of unfailing faith precisely for the purpose of confirming the faith of the brethren, faith is seen, therefore, to be the absolutely necessary disposition for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility, and hence, pertains essentially to the form of the Supreme Pontificate, and is therefore the necessary disposition for the form of the Pontificate to be conserved in the person of the Pontiff, and remain united to him.

As I have explained, the "necessary disposition", which Bellarmine says is faith, is necessary, because, the exercise of the charism of Infallibility depends entirely on the grace of unfailing personal faith of the pope, which Pastor Aeternus declares Christ promised to Peter and his successors in order that they may fulfill the office of confirmator fratrum. The argument proving this ex ratione is based philosophically on St. Thomas' doctrine on the operation of the powers of the soul and the necessary dispositions for these operations. The application of St. Thomas' teaching on the operation of the powers of the soul to the exercise of the papal charism of Infallibility is as follows:

Distinguishing between the essence of the soul and its powers, Aquinas explains that the powers of the soul are rooted in the potentiality and act of the substance of the soul, which, in its essence as form is act, but is in potentiality as the principle of the operation of the powers of the soul. [20] In Article 2, St. Thomas explains that a plurality of powers of the soul are necessary for the realization of a perfection, which requires the proper disposition without which it cannot be brought from potentiality to act, and therefore, is accordingly realized in degrees according to the disposition to operate the powers of the soul and thereby realize the perfection.[21] From what is set forth in article 4 on the operation of the powers of the soul [22], it can be understood that in the same manner as of the purely natural operation of the powers of the soul, and accordingly as there exists an order between the powers by which one is ordered as a disposition for the operation of another, likewise when those natural powers are elevated by the supernatural grace of infused virtues, and ordered to operate in relation to their charisms – the virtue of faith as a dispositive habit is necessary as the disposition out of which is generated the charism of Infallibility, and is its substrate, the virtus and potentia required as the basis for its operation, and therefore the necessary disposition upon which the operation of the charism of Infallibility is conditioned, and to which operation it is ordered.[23] Thus it is that the charism of Infallibility cannot exist and be exercised in a subject in which the virtue of faith as a dispositive habit is absent, due to the order of dependence of the charism on the virtue.

St. Thomas elaborates in Article 5 on the operation of the powers of the soul, distinguishing between those powers which exist in the soul as their subject, and those which have for their subject the conjoined body and soul, and therefore not proper to just the soul or the body: «philosophus dicit, non est proprium animae neque corporis, sed coniuncti. Potentia ergo sensitiva est in coniuncto sicut in subiecto. Non ergo sola anima est subiectum omnium potentiarum suarum». And he continues in the corpus of the article: «Respondeo dicendum quod illud est subiectum operativae potentiae, quod est potens operari, omne enim accidens denominat proprium subiectum. Idem autem est quod potest operari, et quod operatur. Unde oportet quod eius sit potentia sicut subiecti, cuius est operatio; ut etiam philosophus dicit, in principio de somno et vigilia. Manifestum est autem ex supra dictis quod quaedam operationes sunt animae, quae exercentur sine organo corporali, ut intelligere et velle. Unde potentiae quae sunt harum operationum principia, sunt in anima sicut in subiectoQuaedam vero operationes sunt animae, quae exercentur per organa corporalia; sicut visio per oculum, et auditus per aurem. Et simile est de omnibus aliis operationibus nutritivae et sensitivae partis. Et ideo potentiae quae sunt talium operationum principia, sunt in coniuncto sicut in subiecto, et non in anima sola. »[24] And finally, «Ad primum ergo dicendum quod omnes potentiae dicuntur esse animae, non sicut subiecti, sed sicut principii, quia per animam coniunctum habet quod tales operationes operari possit. »[25]

Thus, in the manner of the purely natural operation of the powers of the soul: therefore likewise in the operation of those powers in the supernatural order of grace which presupposes and builds upon nature, and acts in conjunction with and upon the basis of nature, and in accordance with the natural powers of the soul; and therefore most necessarily the operation of the charism of Infallibility requires a subject in which is present the habit of faith as the necessary disposition in order that it be operated on the basis of faith, with the soul as the principle of the operation aided by grace – with faith acting as the supernatural disposition in the soul, by which the power of the charism is exercised as a human act, through the powers of the soul acting in the composite of body and soul. Thus it is that for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility to be properly a human act of the Pontiff,  faith is the necessary disposition for the form of the supreme pontificate, to which pertains the charism of Infallibility, in which there is not just a participation in the power of the virtue of faith, but the plenitude of power (as Pope Innocent III says[26]): the plenitude of power – in which plenitude there is unfailing faith as the basis upon which depends the operation of the charism to infallibly speak and bind in matters of faith. Thus from reason, from considering the nature of the powers of the soul, one understands the why both Pope Innocent III[27] and St. Robert Bellarmine[28] were correct in their belief that the Roman Pontiff cannot personally confirm the faith of others if that virtue is lacking in the Pontiff himself, because faith is necessary as a disposition of the soul and must be in the soul as its subject for the soul to be the principle of the operation of the charism of Infallibility.

This entire argument is premised on the promise of Christ to Peter of the gift of unfailing faith so that he may confirm the faith of his brethren, and thus that unfailing faith is the necessary disposition for Peter's operation of the charism of Infallibility. Christ did not simply bestow infallibility on Peter to speak through Peter in such a manner as God spoke through the ass of Balaam, but He gave him the unfailing virtue of faith as the basis and necessary disposition for Peter to exercise the charism of Infallibility, thus constituting him as the confirmator fratrum; and thus it is, that the charism cannot be exercised in one in whom the virtue of faith is absent, and as a consequence, the form of the Supreme Pontificate cannot be retained in the person of a heretic Pope.

The opposing opinion was expressed already by Cardinal Enrico da Susa (a.k.a. Ostiene or Ostiense), and was explained by Cardinal Alfons Stickler, as Roberto de Mattei relates: «Professor Jamin recalls in particular Ostiene’s commenting of these words relating to the Pope, “Nec deficiat fides eius”.  According to the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia: “The faith of Peter is not exclusively his “faith” meant as a personal act, but is the faith of the entire Church of which he is the spokesman and the Prince of the Apostles. Christ prays therefore, for the faith of the entire Church in persona tantum Petri, since it is the faith of the Church, professed by Peter, which never fails et propterea ecclesia non presumitur posse errare" (op. cit. p. 223). » This notion of the unfailing faith of Peter not being meant as a personal act, but is the faith of entire Church, is the basis of opinion no. 5. De Mattei continues, « Ostiene’s thought matches that of all the great medieval canonists. The greatest scholar of these authors, Cardinal Alfonso Maria Stickler, points out that “the prerogative of infallibility of office does not impede the Pope, as an individual, from sin and thus become personally heretical (...). In the case of an obstinate and public profession of certain heresy, since it is condemned by the Church, the Pope becomes "minor quolibet catholico" (a common phrase of canonists) and ceases to be pope (...). This fact of a heretic Pope does not touch then Pontifical infallibility since it does not signify impeccability or inerrancy in the person of the Pontiff, [or] inerrancy in establishing forcefully from his office a truth of the faith or an immutable principle of Christian life (...).  The canonists knew very well how to distinguish between the person of the Pope and his office. If then they declared the Pope dethroned, when certainly and obstinately heretical, they admit implicitly that from this personal fact not only is the infallibility of the office not compromised, but that it is somewhat defended and affirmed: any ‘papal’ decision whatever against a truth already decided is automatically rendered impossible” (A. M. Stickler, Sulle origini dell'infallibilità papale, "Rivista Storica della Chiesa in Italia" , 28 (1974), pp. 586-587)." »[29]

The fatal defect in the notion of the unfailing faith of Peter being not the personal faith of Peter, but the faith of the entire Church represented in persona tantum Petri, consists in the impossibility of the faith of the entire Church to be represented in the person of Peter through the charism of Infallibility if faith does not exist as a virtue in the soul of Peter as its subject, thus uniting his soul to Christ by faith, and thereby disposing the soul of the Pontiff as the principle of the operation of the charism of unfailing faith, which is Infallibility: «modus actionis sequitur dispositionem agentis, unumquodque enim quale est, talia operatur. Et ideo, cum virtus sit principium aliqualis operationis, oportet quod in operante praeexistat secundum virtutem aliqua conformis dispositio.» (1a 2æ q. 55. A. 1 ad 1) The virtus, understood as the principle of an operation cannot be operative unless there preexist in the soul of the operating subject a disposition by which it is brought into conformity with that active principle. Hence, the charism of Infallibility which consists of the fullness of the power of the virtue of faith, cannot operate in the soul where that virtue, as a dispositive habit ordered to the operation of the charism, is totally absent; and thus, the virtue of faith is the necessary disposition which must be present in the soul as its subject for that charism to be operative; and therefore, the virtue of faith existing in the soul of the pope as its subject is the necessary disposition for the preservation of the form of the supreme pontificate in the person of the pope. It follows therefore as a strict corollary that were it possible for the pope’s faith to fail, then, as Bellarmine says, «ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus. » (De Romano Pontifice lib. II Cap. XXX)

Bellarmine explains why this would be so: “either faith is a necessary disposition as one for this purpose, that someone should be Pope, or it is merely that he be a good Pope. If the first, therefore, after that disposition has been abolished through its opposite, which is heresy, and soon after the Pope ceases to be Pope: for the form cannot be preserved without its necessary dispositions. If the second, then a Pope cannot be deposed on account of heresy. On the other hand, in general, he ought to be deposed even on account of ignorance and wickedness, and other dispositions which are necessary to be a good Pope, and besides, Cajetan affirms that the Pope cannot be deposed from a defect of dispositions that are not necessary as one (non necessarium simpliciter), but merely necessary for one to be a good Pope (ad bene esse).”

Bellarmine then responds to Cajetan’s objection: “Cajetan responds that faith is a necessary disposition simply, but in part not in total, and hence with faith being absent the Pope still remains Pope, on account of another part of the disposition which is called the character, and that still remains. But on the other hand, either the total disposition which is the character and faith, is necessary as one unit, or it is not, and a partial disposition suffices. If the first, then without faith, the necessary disposition does not remain any longer as one, because the whole was necessary as one unit and now it is no longer total. If the second, then faith is not required to be good (fides non requiritur nisi ad bene esse), and hence on account of his defect, a Pope cannot be deposed. Thereupon, those things which have the final disposition to ruin (quae habent ultimam dispositionem ad interitum), soon after cease to exist, without another external force (sine alia vi externa), as is clear (ut patet); therefore, even a heretical Pope, without any deposition ceases to be Pope through himself. (Papa haereticum sine alia depositione per se desinit esse Papa.”) [Italics in original]

Bellarmine argues here of faith as a necessary disposition for the pope to remain united to the Church as visible member by means of the public confession of faith. The logic of the argument is air tight and unassailable, and as such proves beyond legitimate dispute that if a pope were to become a public heretic, he would cease automatically to be pope. However, faith as a necessary disposition to remain in the Church as a visible member does not suffice to account for why it is that faith, not merely the material and external profession of the objective content of faith, but the virtue of faith as a principium operationis is necessary to be in the soul of person of the pope as its subject in order to receive and preserve within himself the form of the supreme pontificate. As I mentioned earlier, St. Thomas explains that, « Primum est quod per fidem anima coniungitur Deo»; and therefore, «Baptismus enim sine fide non prodest»; and thus, as Bellarmine notes, «ex B. Thoma, qui 3. part. q. 8. dicit, eos qui fide carent, non esse unitos Christo actu, sed in potentia  tantum», and therefore, «secundum B. Thomam, solus character non unit actu hominem cum Christo» -- and thus not being united to Christ by faith, a heretic pope would lack the capacity to exercise the function of confirmator  fratrum, being incapable of exercising the charism of Infallibility, and therefore, lacking the necessary disposition to retain the form of the papacy, in which is the fullness of power of an unfailing faith. In Bellarmine’s own words, lacking the necessary disposition to retain the form of the papacy, «Papa haereticus sine alia depositione per se desinit esse Papa»; because, «ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus. »

Simply stated, the charism of Infallibility depends on the virtue of faith as its necessary disposition, because it consists of the fullness of power of the unfailing virtue of faith; and therefore it would clearly be impossible for one to be a valid Roman Pontiff without the virtue of faith; nor would it be possible for a Pontiff who possesses the fullness of power of unfailing faith to fail in his faith and to defect from the faith by falling into heresy.

The virtue of faith as the absolutely necessary disposition for a man to validly receive and preserve the form of the Supreme Pontificate can also clearly be seen to be the basis of the teaching of Paul IV in Cum ex apostolatus officio, which, although not dogmatically defined[30], was the basis of disciplinary canonical provisions set forth in that decree which remained in force until 1983, and as a doctrine remains perpetually valid. The problematic aspect of its teaching would be its applicability, insofar as it appears to be unenforceable. As a pure hypothesis, this doctrine would seem to constitute a valid basis for opinion no 2, according to which even a pope who is a secret heretic would cease to be pope, not because he would thereby cease altogether to be a member of the Church, but because the heretic can neither receive nor conserve the form of the papacy. However, since a secret heretic could neither be pope, nor could it be known and judged that he is not a valid pope, and therefore he could not be removed by men, (as Bellarmine points out), the papacy would cease to be a visible institution, because it could not ever be known whether or not the pope is a true and visible head of the Church, or if he is a counterfeit heretic impostor. Thus, the necessity of personal faith as the doctrinal basis of Cum ex apostolatus officio would only superficially appear to provide a theological basis for opinion no. 2; whereas in reality, it underscores and confirms the validity of opinion no. one, and manifests the irresolvable problematic aspect of opinion no. 2, which plainly demonstrates it to be utterly inapplicable in reality, and logically incoherent even as a mere hypothesis, since the pope is by definition the visible head of the Church, and that visibility would not exist in the papacy if a man who is not the pope would visibly appear to be the pope. Hence, it is clear that opinion no. one, and not opinion no. 2 (which only superficially appears to be), was the basis for Paul IV’s doctrine in that decree.

2) «Secundo probatur ab eventu; nam hactenus nullus fuit haereticus, vel certe de nullo probari [PK1] potest, quod haereticus fuerit; ergo signum est, non posse esse. »[31]

Dr. Edward Peters, in A Canon Lawyer’s Blog notes, «Beste, (Introductio (1961) 242), “In history no example of this can be found.” And the great Felix Cappello, Summa Iuris I (1949) n. 309, thought that the possibility of a pope falling into public heresy should be “entirely dismissed given the special love of God for the Church of Christ [lest] the Church fall into the greatest danger.” » Not only does St. Robert Bellarmine affirm that no pope has ever fallen into heresy, but Innocent III and Pope St. Agatho had already stated the same: «Et ideo fides apostolicae sedis in nulla nunquam turbatione defecit, sed integra semper et illibata permansit: ut Petri privilegium persisteret inconcussum. » [32]; and, Pope St. Agatho in his response to Sergius: “Let your clemency therefore consider that the Lord and Saviour of all, to whom faith belongswho promised that the faith of Peter should not failadmonished him to strengthen his brethren; and it is known to all men that the apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always done this with confidence...”[33]

Citing the work of Da Silveira, Don Curzio Nitoglia explains that the first opinion, that a pope cannot be a heretic,  is the one that is most commonly taught as the most probable by the majority of theologians and Doctors: Bellarmine, Francisco Suarez, Melchior Cano, Domingo Soto, John of St. Thomas, Juan de Torquemada, Louis Billot, Joachim Salaverri, A. Maria Vellico, Charles Journet (and Cajetan who is not cited by Da Silveira, but is demonstrated by Msgr. Vittorio Mondello in La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, Messina, Istituto Arti Grafiche di Sicilia, 1965, cap. V, pp. 163-194 e cap. VI, pp. 195-224) and that the pope as pope cannot fall into formal heresy, whereas he can favour heresy or fall into material heresy as a private doctor or also as pope, but only in the non defining magisterium, which in neither infallible nor binding.[34]

Commenting on Ballerini, Don Curzio explains, “If one studies well the thought of don Pietro Ballerini, one sees that according to him, the pope is obligated to place himself under supernatural faith, and the natural moral law as well as the divine law; there is no human authority over him, but his power is limited to that which God has given to him who is his vicar on earth, which is only when he defines and infallibly binds; but when expressing opinions on manners not yet defined, he can err; and in an eventual and possible case of external heresy, Ballerini is not opposed to the possibility that the pope could fall, not dealing with definitions, but he maintains that it has never happened in all the history of the Church and will never happen.[35]

For a long time opinions have been divided among eminent theologians and canonists between opinion no 1 that a pope simply cannot fall into heresy, and the opinion that a pope could fall into heresy. Peters, observes, « Wrenn, writing in the CLSA NEW COMM (2001) at 1618 states: “Canon 1404 is not a statement of personal impeccability or inerrancy of the Holy Father. Should, indeed, the pope fall into heresy, it is understood that he would lose his office. To fall from Peter’s faith is to fall from his chair.” »[36] An earlier edition of that same commentary says, “Communion becomes a real issue when it is threatened or even lost. This occurs especially through heresy, apostasy and schism. Classical canonists discussed the question whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy, apostasy or schism.” The footnote refers to S. Sipos, Enchiridion Iuris Canonici, 7th ed. (Rome: Herder, 1960), who “cites Bellarmine and Wernz in support of this position; this view, however, is termed ‘antiquated’ by F. Cappello, Summa Iuris Canonici (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1961), 297.” The Commentary continues, “If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicised manner, he would break communion and, according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto (c. 194 par. 1, n. 2). Since no one can judge the pope (c. 1404) no one could depose a pope for such crimes, and the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election.” –  (James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Donald E. Heintschel; , p. 272) Bellarmine states in his comment on opinion no. one, that he accepted this opinion (no.5) as a hypothesis, but considered opinion no 1 one as the more probable: “Still, because it is not certain, and the common opinion is to the contrary, it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”

I have already quoted above, Cardinal Stickler (“the prerogative of infallibility of office does not impede the Pope, as an individual, from sin and thus become personally heretical”), and most recently, Cardinal Raymond Burke, “If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.”[37]

Dominic Prummer: “The power of the Roman Pontiff is lost. . . (c) By his perpetual insanity or by formal heresy. And this at least probably.  . . . The Authors indeed commonly teach that a pope loses his power through certain and notorious heresy, but whether this case is really possible is rightly doubted.” [38]

Matthaeus Conte a Coronata: “2. Loss of office of the Roman Pontiff. This can occur in various ways: . . . c) Notorious heresy. Certain authors deny the supposition that the Roman Pontiff can become a heretic. It cannot be proven however that the Roman Pontiff, as a private teacher, cannot become a heretic – if, for example, he would contumaciously deny a previously defined dogma. Such impeccability was never promised by God. Indeed, Pope Innocent III expressly admits such a case is possible. If indeed such a situation would happen, he would, by divine law, fall from office without any sentence, indeed, without even a declaratory one. He who openly professes heresy places himself outside the Church, and it is not likely that Christ would preserve the Primacy of His Church in one so unworthy. Wherefore, if the Roman Pontiff were to profess heresy, before any condemnatory sentence (which would be impossible anyway) he would lose his authority.” [39]

The contrary opinion is expressed by St. Robert Bellarmine, who first states the argument: “Many canons teach that the Pope cannot be judged unless he may be discovered to have deviated from the faith, therefore he can deviate from the faith. Otherwise these canons would be to no effect. It is clear from the preceding canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, from the 5th Council under Symachus, from the Eighth general council, act 7, from the third epistle of Anacletus, the second epistle of Eusebius, and from Innocent III [411].”[40] He then tersely refutes it: “Therein it is gathered correctly that the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer. Furthermore, Christ prayed lest his faith would fail, not lest he would fall into vice.”[41] Thus, Bellarmine answers the impeccability objection.

Not only does St. Robert Bellarmine argue that there has never been any pope proven to have been a heretic, but it was the position of the First Vatican Council under Pope Pius IX, as Archbishop Purcell testified (in the earlier cited passage on the query of a cardinal on a heretic pope), “It was answered that there has never been such a case”.  St. Robert also argues that it cannot be gathered from those canons that a pope can in fact become a heretic, but (says Bellarmine in the same chapter VII), “I say those canons do not mean the Pope can err as a private person but only that the Pope cannot be judged; it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not.

Thus, they add the condition ‘if he might become a heretic’ for greater caution.”[42] These words of the Holy Doctor, «sed tantum non posse Pontificem judicari», provide a key for understanding the distinctions he makes in refuting opinion no. 3 and 4, and the basis of opinion no. 5.

Needless to say, St. Robert Bellarmine’s declaration that “the Pope cannot be judged”, directly refutes the interpretation of John Salza and Robert Siscoe, who say that according to Bellarmine, a heretical pope would not lose office unless he would be judged to be a heretic by the Church. In their hysterical article, RESPONDING TO FR. KRAMER'S ERRONEOUS INTERPRETATION OF BELLARMINE , Salza & Co. quote my statement: “Bellarmine does not refute the argument that a pope who is a manifest heretic loses office [by himself] – he is speaking specifically of removal of the pope when he says the judgment of men is required to remove him. The fact of loss of office occurs ipso facto, but the heretic “pope” must be removed by the judgment of the Church.” (Non aufertur a Deo nisi per hominem) Salza & Siscoe then comment, “Fr. Kramer says that the heretical Pope is only ‘judged by men,’ after he has fallen from office. In other words, according to Fr. Kramer, Bellarmine teaches that Christ secretly deposes the Pope (removes him from office) and then the man who is ‘judged’ is no longer the Pope.  The ‘judgment of men,’ he claims, simply concerns the Church’s physical removal of the former Pope from office.” I have already explained in the first part of this work, the manner in which the loss of office would take place in the case of a heretical pope, as set forth by Bellarmine, Ballerini, and Pope Gregory XVI; and nowhere have I ever even remotely suggested that “Christ secretly deposes the Pope”, but that according to their doctrine, the heretic pope would by the very act of heresy fall from office “by himself”, having pronounced judgment upon himself; and the fall from office would take place without any judgment by the Church, as Ballerini explicitly states.[43]  Thus the only question of law would not be concerned with how the loss of office would come about, (which is a doctrinal question that cannot be settled by legislation), but with the means and procedures by which the Church would declare the heretic’s fall from office to have taken place, so that the vacancy could be filled.

Salza and Siscoe also write most stupidly in their magnum opus of, “Pope Honorius, who has been declared a heretic by the Church (albeit after his death)!”[44] The Church has never judged Pope Honorius to have actually been guilty of the crime of heresy. Salza in particular most ignorantly pontificates that there have been several historical examples of popes who were formal heretics, claiming that there have been “several historical examples”.[45]

Bellarmine deals with the question of judging a pope, and of Pope Honorius in particular in his commentary on the third opinion:

“The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy. Turrecremata in the aforementioned citation relates and refutes this opinion, and rightly so, for it is exceedingly improbable. Firstly, because that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent [321]. And what is more, in the Fourth Council of Constantinople, Act 7, the acts of the Roman Council under Hadrian are recited, and in those it was contained that Pope Honorius appeared to be legally anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, the only reason where it is lawful for inferiors to judge superiors. Here the fact must be remarked upon that, although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II was deceived by corrupted copies of the Sixth Council, which falsely reckoned Honorius was a heretic, we still cannot deny that Hadrian, with the Roman Council, and the whole Eighth Synod sensed that in the case of heresy, a Roman Pontiff can be judged. Add, that it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”

A fundamentalistic interpretation of Bellarmine’s refutation of opinion no. 3, (such as that of Salza and Siscoe), simplistically applies the Canon Si papa like a blunt instrument, with a total disregard for the subtly nuanced understanding of the canon as it was understood by Medieval canonists and interpreted by Bellarmine. Siscoe most ignorantly states, in his Remnant article, replying to those who would «object by saying, since a pope cannot be judged by a council, Bellarmine could not have meant that a council would depose a heretical Pope. They will then insist that this is why Bellarmine taught that a heretical pope loses his office automatically. But this is clearly not the case, since Bellarmine himself defended the opinion that a heretical Pope can be judged by a council. He wrote: “Firstly, that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in Can. Si Papa dist. 40, and by Innocent III (Serm. II de Consec. Pontif.)  Furthermore, in the 8th Council, (act. 7) the acts of the Roman Council under Pope Hadrian are recited, in which one finds that Pope Honorius appears to be justly anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, which is the only case in which inferiors are permitted to judge superiors.” (79) » . Indeed, if Bellarmine were invoking that canon as a justification for a pope’s inferiors to judge a reigning Pontiff for heresy, then he would have involved himself in an irreconcilable contradiction, having stated in Book IV that “the pope cannot be judged”. Salza and Siscoe completely overlook the critical distinction between deponendus and depositus that Bellarmine and Ballerini make, as I have already pointed out earlier, and as Don Curzio also explains: «the third opinion has  been taken into consideration by only one French theologian of the Nineteenth Century (D. Bouix, Tractatus de Papa, Parigi/Lione, Lecoffre, 1869) out of 137 authors, according to which if the pope, as a hypothesis, falls into heresy he retains the pontificate, but the faithful must not remain passive, but should manifest the error to the pope so that he may be corrected, without, however, being able to declare him “depositus” or to be deposed “deponendus” (cfr.  A. X. Da Silveira, Qual è l’autorità dottrinale dei documenti pontifici e conciliari?, “Cristianità”, n. 9, 1975; Id., È lecita la resistenza a decisioni dell’Autorità ecclesiastica?, “Cristianità”, n. 10, 1975; Id., Può esservi l’errore nei documenti del Magistero ecclesiastico?, “Cristianità”, n. 13, 1975) This third opinion is not shared by any “approved” theologians”.»[46] Accordingly Bellarmine presents the third opinion thus, “Papam neque per haeresim occultam, neque per manifestam, esse depositum aut deponi posse”. Thus Bellarmine rejects this opinion not on the basis of a pope being able to be judged and deposed by the Church, but to be judged as having fallen from office and to simply “be deposed” by his own actions, and thus not deposed by the Church, but per se to have fallen from office. Don Curzio concludes, «In reality, Bellarmine treats of the pure hypothesis of a heretic pope, “admitted but not conceded”, but holding speculatively, as an investigative hypothesis – that the pope would be deposed ipso facto (“depositus”) and not to be deposed (“deponendus”) after a declaration of the bishops or the Sacred College of Cardinals»[47]

One of the great Medieval canonists was Pope Innocent III, whose sermons strongly support opinion no. one, but who at least hypothetically admitted opinion no. 5 as well. It is absolutely clear from Innocent’s teaching that, so long as the pope holds office, he cannot be judged by anyone, and no judgment of the Church pronounced on the pope would be of any effect: «Petrus ligare potest cæteros, sed ligari non potest a cæteris. Tu, inquit, vocaberis Cephas (Joan. 1), quod exponitur caput; quia sicut in capite consistit omnium sensuum plenitudo, in cæteris autem  membris pars est aliqua plenitudinis: ita cæteri vocati sunt in partem sollicitudinis, solus autem Petrus assumptus est in plenitudinem potestatis. Jam ergo videtis quis iste servus, qui super familiam constituitur, profecto vicarius Jesu Christi, successor Petri, Christus Domini, Deus Pharaonis: inter Deum et hominem medius constitutus, citra Deum, sed ultra hominem: minor Deo, sed major hominequi de omnibus judicat, et a nemine judicatur: Apostoli voce pronuntians, qui me judicat, Dominus est (ICor. iv).» [48] The Pope is the divine pharaoh, he is less than God but more than man, who pronounces with the voice of the Apostle, He who judges me is the Lord. (1 Cor. 4) Being “minor Deo sed major homine”, he is judged by no one – a nemine judicatur”.

However, if a pope were to become a heretic, he would, according to the Medieval canonists, (as Cardinal Stickler explains), “cease to be pope”, and thus would no longer be major homine,  but as a heretic who is no longer a member of the Church would become minor quolibet catholico: from being more than man, he would become less than any Catholic, since (as Bellarmine would later explain) he would no longer be pope, a Christian, or a member of the Church. Having fallen from office – from the highest position to the lowest, i.e., minor quolibet catholicohe can be shown to be already judged, (as Innocent III says) and having been already judged by God and having ceased to be pope, he can then be judged and punished by the Church (as Bellarmine says). Don Curzio Nitoglia[49] writes, “Monsignor Vittorio Mondello (La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, cit., pp. 163-194) explains that the hypothesis of the possibility of a heretic pope derives from the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, cap. 6, col. 146) written between 1140 and 1150, in which is found a fragment erroneously believed to be of St. Boniface, († 5 June 754), a Benedictine monk of Exeter in England sent by Pope Gregory II to evangelize Germany, consecrated Archbishop of Mainz, and martyred in Freising, who is considered to be the apostle of Germany, and whose body rests in Fulda.” [50] “This fragment,” continues Don Curzio, “has the title, ‘Si Papa’, and expresses the doctrine according to which [the pope] ‘a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius/ cannot be judged by any human authority, except if he has fallen into heresy’.”[51] “Basing themselves on this spurious decree erroneously attributed to St. Boniface and accepted at face value by Gratian,” continues Don Curzio, “the Medieval and Counter-Reformation theologians maintained as possible the hypothesis but not the certitude of the possibility of a heretic pope. At this point they are divided in how to resolve the question of a pope who eventually falls into heresy as a private person (cfr. A. M. Vellico, De Ecclesia Christi, Roma, 1940, p. 395, n. 557, in footnote 560 there is an ample bibliography). Cardinal Charles Journet  (L’Eglise du Verbe Incarné, Bruges, Desclée, II ed., 1995, vol. I, p. 626) maintains that the opinion according to which the pope cannot fall into heresy ‘is gaining ascendency above all due to the progress of historical studies. Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30) was one of the supporters of this thesis. The opinion that admits of the possibility of papal heresy has its remote origin from the already cited Decree of Gratian, which brings up again a spurious text attributed to St. Boniface’ (cited in V. Mondello, op. cit., p. 164).”[52]

“Now the eventual condemnation of a pope in the sole case of heresy by an imperfect Council (of bishops only),” continues Don Curzio, “is the thesis of mitigated Conciliarism, condemned as heretical and the child of radical Conciliarism, which holds that the Council is always superior to the pope, and which has been condemned per se as heretical. Msgr. Antonio Piolante writes, ‘Conciliarism is an ecclesiological error, according to which an ecumenical Council is superior to the pope. The remote origin of Conciliarism is found in the juridical principle of the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, cap. 6) according to which the pope can be judged by the Church (the bishops or the cardinals) in case of heresy. […] this error was condemned by the Council of Trent and received its coup de grâce from the First Vatican Council’ (Dizionario di teologia dommatica, Roma, Studium, IV ed., 1957, pp. 82-84, voce Conciliarismo).”[53] I have already quoted verbatim the relevant texts of Trent and Vatican I earlier in this work.

In spite of their protestations that they refrain from holding a position in these matters which have not been decided by the ecclesiastical magisterium, Salza and Siscoe have emphatically stated and elaborated their heretical position on the question of a heretical pope. In their Gloria TV interview, Salza and Siscoe emphatically declare (proximate to heresy) in response to the question, “So, are you saying that heresy itself would not cause a Pope to fall from office?”:  (Salza and Siscoe) - “Yes, that is correct. In the book, we use the metaphysics of Thomas to explain why it is that heresy does not directly cause a Pope to fall from the pontificate.” Robert J. Siscoe states with unequivocal clarity his heretical mitigated Conciliarist opinion in his Remnant article (Nov. 18, 2014): The Church must render a judgment before the pope loses his office. Private judgment of the laity in this matter does not suffice.” —  Robert J. Siscoe

Clueless Robert Siscoe still cannot grasp the simple notion of an automatic loss of office that does not take place by either private judgment, or official judgment by the Church, but by the act of heresy itself, independently of the judgment of others, but pronounced as a judgment by the heretic upon himself, so that he loses office “straightaway”, as Bellarmine teaches: “by himself” (per se), and ipso facto, which means “by the very act itself”, and therefore “immediately”, “automatically” or “straightaway”,  as Bellarmine states with the word “mox”. Cardinal Raymond Burke, unlike John Salza and Robert Siscoe, does not suffer from the hang-up about automatic loss of office for heresy (which Salza & Siscoe repeatedly declare to be “sedevacantist theology” and a “misinterpretation” and “distortion” of the teaching of St Robert Bellarmine), but understands the clear and unequivocal teaching of St. Bellarmine in his presentation of opinion no. 5, so Cardinal Burke simply states, “If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.”

Salza & Siscoe have become so desperately obsessed with their heretical mitigated Conciliarist belief that a pope who falls into heresy must first be judged by the Church, that they have resorted to a plainly irrational argument against the plainly expressed position of Bellarmine, which I have interpreted and understood in the manner of Cardinal Burke and all the expert commentators of the recent centuries. Here is Salza & Siscoe’s moronic argument against what is universally understood as opinion no. 5:

«Suffice it to say that not a single theologian has ever taught the laity, or individual priest, are permitted render such a judgment or make such public declarations on their own authority.  Before a person can conclude that a Pope has lost his office for heresy, it requires an antecedent (prior) judgment that he has, in fact, fallen into heresy. The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared.  And if the antecedent judgment is forbidden, as Kramer now argues ("a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy") how could the consequent judgment (that he lost his office for heresy) ever be determined?  If the Church was not permitted to render a judgment of heresy concerning a pope, it would be equally forbidden to declare that a Pope had lost his office for heresy.  This explains why the famous axiom "the first see is judged by no one" has been understood to include the exception "unless he is accused of heresy."  But only the Church possesses the authority to render such a judgment and make any consequent declarations. »

First, to the statement, “that not a single theologian has ever taught the laity, or individual priest, are permitted render such a judgment or make such public declarations on their own authority.” St. Robert Bellarmine says: “For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, […] for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” [54] No authority is required to express an opinion on a notorious fact. That is a basic right of natural law. Now here is the Salza/Siscoe lunacy: “Before a person can conclude that a Pope has lost his office for heresy, it requires an antecedent (prior) judgment that he has, in fact, fallen into heresy. The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared.  And if the antecedent judgment is forbidden, as Kramer now argues ("a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy") how could the consequent judgment (that he lost his office for heresy) ever be determined?” [As Kramer now argues? What a load of codswallop!]

Salza & Siscoe  speak of those (i.e. “sedevacantists”) who “ have misunderstood  (and  abused)  the  quote  from  St.  Robert  Bellarmine,  who said  ‘the  manifest  heretic  is  ipso  facto  deposed,’  as  if  Bellarmine actually  meant  that  a  cleric  or  Pope  automatically  loses  his  office  when a  person  privately  judges  him  to  be  a  heretic.” In fact it is Salza and Siscoe who crudely misinterpret Bellarmine, who does not say that a heretic pope loses office ipso facto “when a person privately judges him”, but who loses office “straightaway”, “by himself”, when he publicly pronounces judgment upon himself. It is at this point when, as Bellarmine says, “men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” As both Bellarmine and Ballerini have plainly stated in the quotations I have cited earlier in this work, the loss of office would take place automatically and independently of anyone else’s judgment when the heretic pronounce judgment upon himself; and the judgment of the Church and that of private individuals would take place after the ipso fcto loss of office. All of the decrees and canons (such as Canon 10 of the Fourth Council of Constantinople) cited by Salza and Siscoe, which forbid subjects to depose their prelates, are clearly not applicable, and were not intended to be applied to such a case as would take place when a holder of ecclesiastical office publicly defects from the Catholic faith by manifest heresy. This is most evident from the clear wording of that Canon 10 of Constantinople, which says, “As divine scripture clearly proclaims, ‘Do not find fault before you investigate, and understand first and then find fault’. And does our law judge a person without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?’” This text clearly does not refer to a person who pronounces a public judgment of heresy upon himself, and is not to be found among the canons dealing with heresy, but is in a different section dealing with other crimes. The Church did not excommunicate those who refused to be in communion with Nestorius, but vindicated them by declaring their excommunications to have been null and void.

Siscoe also makes an errant application of Bellarmine’s words in his Remnant article when he says, «St. Bellarmine himself explained that a heretical bishop must be deposed by the proper authorities. After explaining how a false prophet (meaning heretical pastor) can be spotted, he wrote:“…if the pastor is a bishop, they [the faithful] cannot depose him and put another in his place. For Our Lord and the Apostles only lay down that false prophets are not to be listened to by the people, and not that they depose them. And it is certain that the practice of the Church has always been that heretical bishops be deposed by bishop’s councils, or by the Sovereign Pontiff.” » It is patent from the explicitly expressed doctrine of Bellarmine in this text, that he is not treating of matters of opinion, but of acts of jurisdiction – jurisdiction which the faithful do not possess. One has the natural right to judge as a matter of opinion that a manifest heretic who openly rejects dogma has lost office; but private individuals do not have the right to enforce their private opinions, but the loss of office can only be enforced by proper authority upon declaration by ecclesiastical authority. (Canon 194§ 2)[55]

The position of Pope Pius IX at the First Vatican Council was quite different from that of Salza and Siscoe, and did not concern private judgment of a heretical pope, but the plainly evident fact of manifest heresy, as Archbishop Purcell related: “If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I”. No ‘antecedent judgment’ is required or even possible, because by the very fact of public heresy, the heretic would have already fallen from office, and thus there can be no antecedent judgment. An individual person or the Church can only understand and judge that a manifest heretic, who openly denies the faith, is in fact a heretic after the fact of the manifest formal heresy and the immediately consequent fall from office. The Church must declare the fact officially, in order to fill the vacancy, and to protect the souls of the faithful from the heretical wolf, but there is no reason why men would be morally forbidden from forming their own opinions in the matter before the Church makes its official pronouncement: “men are not bound or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.”

Salza and Siscoe say, The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared. Really? But there is no antecedent judgment made before the fall from office – it is impossible, because the pope remains in office so long as he is not a heretic, and cannot be judged. According to Bellarmine, and all who hold to opinion no. 5, the first judgment is pronounced by the heretic upon himself, who automatically falls from office without any judgment by the Church. This is patently manifest in Bellarmine’s own words:

“Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.”

It is at this point, that, after the fall from office, thatas Bellarmine says, “when they [men] see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple, and condemn him as a heretic.”  The Church judges after the fact, and therefore after the fall, and thus judges juridically and punishes the heretic who by his heresy defected from the faith and the Church and became “minor quolibet catholico”. Individuals also judge according to their own private opinion, according to an informed conscience, but the private judgment of individuals does not have the juridical effect of authorizing a new papal election.

As Gregory XVI (quoted earlier) explained, such a one would have “fallen” from office “by himself” (per se decaduto dal pontificato). Similarly, St. Alphonsus: “After all, if God were to permit that a pope would be notoriously heretical and contumacious, he would cease to be pope, and the pontificate would be vacant.” [56] And again in the same work, “The same (i.e. “the See would be considered vacant”) would be in the case, if the pope were to fall notoriously and pertinaciously in some heresy. Since then, … the pope would not be deprived by the Council … but would be immediately stripped by Christ, having in fact become an incapable subject, and fallen from his office.”[57] Thus, the very justification for the Church to convene in a Council to judge the heretic pope would be the fact that the See would have already been considered to be having been vacated by a heretic pope, who would have become an incapable subject to retain the papacy, and would have already fallen from office. The proposition that one is morally bound not to acknowledge such a fact, and to believe the falsehood that a heretic is still the pope until the Church will have declared otherwise, is absurd on its face, and is a perverted belief. No one can ever be bound to believe a falsehood until the Church declares it is false; and that would also leave the wolf free to prowl and destroy souls for however so long it would take for the Church to finally get its act together and render a judgment – quod esset miserrima conditio Ecclesiæ, si lupum manifeste grassantem, pro pastore agnoscere cogeretur. (Bellarminus).

As I have already explained earlier, an ipso facto loss of office takes place immediately by the very act itself, by that fact alone, otherwise it is not ipso facto. If such a fall does not take place immediately by the fact itself, but only after judgment by the Church, then it is not ipso facto, because ipso facto means “by the fact itself”, and if the fact of heresy has already taken place in reality but the heretic does not yet fall from office by that fact alone, i.e., “by himself”THEN IT IS NOT IPSO FACTO. The notion of an ipso facto fall from office that does not take place immediately by the very fact of heresy alone, by itself, but only after the judgment of the Church, is a self-contradictory notion. This is how the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine is understood by all ecclesiastical scholars who comment on his exposition of opinion no. 5 – that the ipso facto fall from office is automatic.

“According to Bellarmine,” explains Don Curzio Nitoglia, “(De Romano Pontifice lib. II. Cap. 30, p. 420), since notorious and public manifest heretics lose jurisdiction ipso facto, granted but not conceded  that the pope can fall into heresy, in the eventual case of manifest heresy, he would immediately lose the papal authority. This is the interpretation of the Bellarminian position given by the Jesuit Fathers Franz Xavier Wernz and Pedro Vidal (Jus Canonicum), Rome, Gregorian, 1943, vol. II, p. 517)”[58] Then Don Curzio points out that the same interpretation is given by other eminent authorities as well: “(cfr. also L. Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, Prato, Giachetti, 1909, tomo II, p. 617; J. Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi, Madrid, BAC, 1958, p. 879, n. 1047).” [59]

Against this unanimous interpretation of commentators on Bellarmine made by all eminent theologians and canonists in recent centuries, Salza and Siscoe most stupidly declare:

«Bellarmine and Suarez (two Jesuits) disagree with the opinion of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas (the Dominicans). As we explain in great detail in our book, Bellarmine and Suarez teach that the Pope will lose his office, ipso facto, once he is judged by the Church to be a heretic, without the additional juridical act of vitandus declaration. »  (emphasis added)

And then they explain what (according to them) is the “erroneous interpretation of Bellarmine” which they characterize as the “sedevacantist interpretation of Bellarmine”, which,(they say), “Fr. Kramer has swallowed hook, line and sinker” (!!!):

«Where the Sedevacantists have erred is by interpreting the ipso facto loss of office to be similar to an “ipso facto” latae sententiæ excommunication, which occurs automatically (or ipso facto), when one commits an offense that carries the penalty, without requiring an antecedent judgment by the Church. But this is not at all what Bellarmine and Suarez meant by the ipso facto loss of office.  What they meant is that the ipso facto loss of office occurs after the Church judges the Pope to be a heretic and before any additional juridical sentence or excommunication (which differs from Cajetan’s opinion). In other words, after the Church establishes “the fact” that the Pope is a manifest heretic, he, according to this opinion, is deemed to lose his office ipso facto (“by the fact”). This is clear from the following quotation from Suarez who wrote: . . . »

Incredibly, Salza and Siscoe would attempt to interpret the meaning of Bellarmine, (who said opinion no. 5 is the true opinion), not by analyzing Bellarmine’s own words, but by quoting Suarez, who, according to all the expert canonists and theologians subscribed to opinion no. 4! Salza & Siscoe say they are all wrong, and that Suarez followed opinion no. 5! Don Curzio comments, “The fourth opinion, studied above all by Cardinal Tommaso de Vio ‘Cajetan’, by John of St. Thomas, (De aucttoritate Summi Pontificis, Quebec, Laval University, 1947) and also by Francisco Suarez (who examines the first and the fourth, but maintains the first more probable than the fourth); according to the fourth opinion there must be a declaration of heresy of the pope by the bishops or the College of Cardinals.”[60] All commentators, whether theologians or canonists, distinguish between opinion no. 4 and no. 5 on the basis that in opinion no. 4 a judgment of the Church is necessary for a manifest heretic pope to fall from office, and in opinion no 5 the fall is automatic, without any judgment by the Church. This is the opinion of Cardinal Burke, whom I have quoted earlier saying the fall would be “automatic”. According to Salza & Siscoe, they are all wrong, and their interpretation of opinion no. 5 is “sedevacantist theology”— and they ignorantly insist that both Suarez and Bellarmine were of opinion no. 5, which they interpret to mean that the heretic pope would fall from office after a judgment by the Church.

It is by this fraudulent and grotesquely distorted misinterpretation of Bellarmine, that Salza and Siscoe attempt to make it appear that Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Layman (and others) were all in agreement that a judgment of the Church would first be necessary before a heretic pope would fall from office, and they fraudulently maintain that this universally abandoned opinion is the common opinion today! The opinion that a manifestly and formally heretical pope would remain in office and retain jurisdiction until judged by the Church is proximate to heresy, because it opposes the teaching of the universal magisterium that a heretic is severed from the body of the Church by the public act of formal heresy; and it is also contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, as Bellarmine plainly demonstrates. The opinion also professes the heresy that a pope can be judged by the Church while still in office (mitigated Conciliarism). Salza and Siscoe make a desperate attempt to salvage their heretical doctrine by appealing to the teaching of Billuart, who misapplies the provisions of Ad evitanda scandala (Martin V) to the case of a heretic pope. This topic will be dealt with in the next section.

SECTION THREE

St. Robert Bellarmine’s Treatment of the Five Opinions

1

I have presented St. Robert Bellarmine’s exposition on the First Opinion, that a pope cannot be a heretic, in the previous section, and also presented my own argument proving this opinion to be the correct one. Bellarmine says of this opinion, “such an opinion is probable, and can easily be defended”, but, he adds, “it is not certain”. As has been pointed out already, the then more common belief that a pope could fall into heresy had its origin in the spurious Canon Si papa, which heavily influenced the medieval canonists and even held sway among the majority of theologians and canonists in Bellarmine’s day. That this canon was the basis for that opinion is clear from the manner that Bellarmine presents the topic for discussion: “The tenth argument. A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.” One must bear in mind that here, Bellarmine is only presenting the argument, and not stating his own opinion in the matter. This is obvious enough from the context, since he then says, “I respond: there are five opinions on this matter.” The reason I mention this here is because Salza and Siscoe very deceptively quote this passage, in which Bellarmine merely presents the argument to be discussed, as evidence that this argument represented Bellarmine’s own opinion.[61] Bellarmine’s own opinion was that a pope cannot fall into heresy and cannot be judged; and that hypothetically, if a pope could fall into heresy, he would ceased to be pope by that very fall, and only then could he be judged by the Church. I quoted the passage earlier, where he said, “I say those canons do not mean the Pope can err as a private person but only that the Pope cannot be judged; it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not. Thus, they add the condition ‘if he might become a heretic’ for greater caution”; and then the passage in which he most emphatically declares, “the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer. Furthermore, Christ prayed lest his faith would fail”. It is clear that for St. Robert Bellarmine, the pope cannot be judged for heresy because he cannot become a heretic. Nevertheless, he says, “it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not.” Although St. Robert knew the teaching of Innocent III, that the grace of unfailing faith pertains essentially to the holder of the Petrine office, he did not yet have the solemn dogma of Infallibility pronounced by the First Vatican Council, which established the promise of unfailing faith of the Pontiff as the premise and basis, and therefore the necessary disposition for Papal Infallibility: Quorum quidem apostolicam doctrinam omnes venerabiles Patres amplexi et sancti Doctores orthodoxi venerati atque secuti sunt; plenissime scientes, hanc sancti Petri Sedem ab omni semper errore illibatam permanere, secundum Domini Salvatoris nostri divinam pollicitationem discipulorum suorum principi factam: Ego rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos.[62] So, while the Vatican Council did not define papal inerrancy, or that a pope cannot fall into heresy; nevertheless, the Council did magisterially establish that the infallibility of the See of Peter is premised on the basis of the promised grace of unfailing personal faith of the Pontiff. Thus, without such a clear magisterial pronouncement in his day, Bellarmine did not consider his own opinion to be altogether certain, and therefore says, “it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”

2

Proceeding to the Second Opinion, Bellarmine states that opinion: “Thus, the second opinion is that the Pope, in the very instant in which he falls into heresy, even if it is only interior, is outside the Church and deposed by God, for which reason he can be judged by the Church.” The glaring defect in this opinion is that according to it, the one who falls into interior heresy can be judged by the Church; since the Church authorities could not possibly know that he is a secret heretic, and that he has been deposed by God, and therefore there would be no way they could judge and remove him, as Bellarmine notes, “But a secret heretic cannot be judged by men”. Thus it would be quite impossible for him to be “declared [by the Church] deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield”. If such a heretic pope were to be deposed by God, he would be deposed invisibly, and that would be to no avail, because no one would know he had fallen from the pontificate, and he would therefore remain illegitimately in power as a usurper, in such a manner that he could not be removed. Hence, Bellarmine says, “For Jurisdiction is certainly given to the Pontiff by God, but with the agreement of men, as is obvious; because this man, who beforehand was not Pope, has from men that he would begin to be Pope, therefore, he is not removed by God unless it is through men.” It is clear therefore, that for a pope to be removed by some act other than death (or permanent insanity which is equivalent to death), he must be removed by men, and such a process of removal is first accomplished by the renunciation of the papacy either expressly or tacitly, which effects the loss of office. It is only by such visible actions as acts of manifest heresy, which constitute a visible and obvious defection from the faith and the Church, that bring about the automatic loss of office, that the pope can be judged to have left office by himself, as Bellarmine puts it; or, as Ballerini says, to have “ipso facto by his own will abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”.[63] Thus it is that a pope can be judged by men to have tacitly abdicated by defecting into heresy, and as a public heretic, (and not as a secret heretic as Torquemada maintained), be “judged by the Church, that is, he is declared deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield.” Thus the heretic who loses office by himself can be judged to have lost office and be effectively removed by men. Such automatic loss of office, according to Bellarmine, would only take place in the case of a manifestly heretical pope (Opinion No. 5); and not in the case of a pope who falls into internal heresy (Opinion No. 2). However, in either case, the “necessary disposition” to preserve the form of the pontificate, which is faith (as Bellarmine explains in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), would be lost; but while in the case of a manifest heretic, Bellarmine says by the removal of that necessary disposition the heretic would straightaway cease to be pope; but in the case of an internal heretic pope, he would not cease to be pope.

At first glance, it might appear that the Holy Doctor had contradicted himself, but it was not Bellarmine who asserted a contradictory position on the question, but rather Bellarmine himself was only too aware of the intrinsically contradictory nature of Opinion No. 2, and the irresolvable paradox it creates. St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrated conclusively, that in accordance with divine revelation, external acts of manifest heresy bring about an automatic loss of office; and therefore if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, according to “the fifth and true opinion”, he would immediately cease to be pope and could be judged by the Church; but in the case of internal heresy, “it is not proven to me”, because such an impostor as a counterfeit heretic pope could not be judged and removed from the throne he usurps, and, he adds, “that the foundation of this opinion is that secret heretics are outside the Church, which is false, and we will amply demonstrate this in our tract de Ecclesia.” Quite rightly, Bellarmine expressed his belief and presented proofs (which he judged not to be altogether certain), that such a thing as a heretic pope is impossible; and this is especially borne out by the fact that an internal heretic pope could not confirm the faith of his brethren (as Bellarmine himself believed), being cut off (internally) from the unity of the Church[64], and therefore incapable of exercising the charism of Infallibility and carrying out his munus of confirmator fratrum, he would, (lacking the necessary disposition to preserve the form of the papacy), necessarily cease to be pope; while at the same time, remaining a visible but atrophied member of the Church by a merely external and material union, he would necessarily remain pope as the visible head, (because he could not be visibly removed by men), but incapable of exercising his munus. However, since the dogma of Infallibility had not yet been defined, Bellarmine was clearly not disposed to declare the opinion as certain on the sole basis of the ex ratione argument of loss of papal office due to the removal of the necessary disposition (faith) to preserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope, since that disposition is necessary to preserve the form of the Pontificate in the person of the Pontiff precisely because it is the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility – and thus the proof would not have been certain until the certain existence of the charism itself had been defined.  The contradiction, and the irresolvable paradox that Opinion No. 2 creates, demonstrates that a heretic pope is impossible, since, if a pope could be a manifest heretic, then he could also be a secret heretic; and in either case, the “necessary disposition” would be lost – and therefore, even Opinion No. 5, can only be considered valid as a pure hypothesis.

3

Bellarmine presents the Third Opinion as the opposite extreme (to the extreme opinion that not only a manifest heretic pope would lose office by the very act of manifest heresy [Opinion No. 5], but even an internal heretic would lose office and could be judged [Opinion No. 2]); according to which, “The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy.” (“Papam neque per haeresim occultam, neque per manifestam, esse depositum aut deponi posse”.) I have explained in the previous section that Bellarmine rejects this opinion not on the basis of a pope being able to be judged and deposed by the Church for heresy (Opinion No. 4), but to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions, and thus not deposed, i.e. deponendus by the Church (deponi posse), but per se to have fallen from office (Opinion No. 5).

The basis for Bellarmine’s opinion which refutes Opinion No. 3, is set forth in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and in his explication of the Fifth Opinion: that a manifest heretic ceases to be pope, because he ceases to be a member of the Church by the very act of manifest heresy, which is an act of manifest defection from the Catholic faith, which, by its very nature and thus intrinsic to the act of heresy, severs a member from the body of the Church, and as a direct consequence of that defection, results automatically in the ipso facto loss of office. Bellarmine cites the unanimous teaching of the Fathers in support of his position, and particularly St. Jerome, saying “Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ”. Ballerini follows Bellarmine on this point exactly, and quotes St. Jerome verbatim: «Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronimi ratio in laudata Pauli verba, Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus, quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, et cetera vitia per sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsis sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse  damnatio. » Both Bellarmine and Ballerini were certainly aware that their position on this point was firmly supported by the teaching of St. Pius V in the Roman Catechism: “"Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted.” Therefore, Bellarmine declares: “this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book [324], and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach [325]. Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” Thus, according to Bellarmine, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, by the very nature of his act of defection, he would by himself (per se), sever himself from the body of the Church and bring about his immediate fall from office, which Ballerini describes as an act of abdication (ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus). This opinion was summed up by Gregory XVI, who wrote (on the case of Pedro de Luna), “So then he could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from papacy, even if he had been validly elevated to it.”[65]

In his own words Bellarmine explains, “The foundation of this opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.” A heretic pope would cease to be pope, because by the very act of defection from the faith, he would cease to be a member of the Church; and this is so because heresy, in its nature is an act of defection from the faith, which suapte natura and not by authority of the Church, severs the heretic from the body of the Church. On this solid doctrinal foundation Bellarmine concludes: “Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.” And, “Thenceforth, the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto.” And further, “those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.”

Bellarmine is clear and explicit on this general point: that the separation from the body of the Church, as well as loss of office and all jurisdiction, are effected by the very act of heresy, ex natura haeresis,and are not by the authority of the Church as a penalty for an ecclesiastical delict. This sententia is de fide regarding the separation from the Church, in virtue of the unanimity of the Fathers, the teaching of the universal magisterium set forth in the Roman Catechism, and the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis; and is de fide regarding the loss of office and jurisdiction, because of the unanimity of the Fathers on this point which Bellarmine amply demonstrates (in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), which, therefore, qualifies it as a doctrine pertaining to the universal and ordinary magisterium. Thus, it is not a question of law, but of settled magisterial doctrine that heretics and schismatics are separated from the Church by their own actions, apart from any ecclesiastical law; and the consequent loss of office and jurisdiction is not the result of any penal sanction or any judgment pronounced by the Church, but is the direct effect of the defection from the Church which, apart from any human lawex natura haeresis or ex natura schismatis, takes place as a direct result of tacit renunciation of office.

The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century exponents of Opinion No. 4, (which holds that a manifest heretic pope must either be deposed by the Church, or at least declared deposed by the Church before the loss of office takes place), can perhaps be excused for having held this errant legalistic opinion, but there is no longer any excusing circumstance to justify adherence to it now. The doctrine of Bellarmine and Ballerini on this point was advocated by Pope Gregory XVI, and adopted by the First Vatican Council; and was then formally incorporated into the 1917 Code of Canon Law as the doctrinal basis for Canon 188 §4, and in the 1983 (Canon 194 §2). Since the loss of office and jurisdiction takes place not as a penalty for the ecclesiastical crime of heresy, but is the intrinsic consequence of the manifest sin of formal heresy[66] ex natura haeresis, apart from any human law, there can be no exception for a pope.

Clearly, the mind of the Church on the question of loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy has been magisterially expressed as a tacit renunciation from office, which brings about the automatic removal from office ex natura haeresis, as Bellarmine taught, and not as a punishment for the canonical delict of heresy, a penal deprivation of office which must be pronounced as an official judgment of Church authority on a reigning Pontiff; but as a loss of office that takes place ipso facto by the act of heresy per se, and which is then enforced by a declaratory sentence so that the loss of office can be officially recognized, the heretic removed, and the vacancy filled. “Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.”

The distinction made by Bellarmine and Ballerini between a manifestly heretical pope to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions (Opinion No. 5), as opposed to one who is to be tried and deposed (deponendus), i.e. deprived of office either by a juridical pronouncement, or merely ipso facto deposed upon a juridical declaration, as a punishment for a penal canonical delict of heresy (Opinion No. 4), has either been studiously ignored by Salza and Siscoe, or else they have simply been obliviously unaware of it staring them in the face in Book II Chapter XXX of De Romano Pontifice[67]Whether their oversight is due to deliberate sophistry or oblivious incompetence, in either case, they have interpreted St. Robert Bellarmine’s rejection of Opinion No. 3 to be an endorsement of the opinion that the Church has the authority to judge a reigning pontiff for heresy, and ministerially bring about his deposition from office (Opinion No. 4). In view of all that has been stated above, the heterodoxy of that opinion is patent.

4

«Depositus» vs. «Deponendus»

St. Robert Bellarmine, in his doctrine on the question of the deposition of a manifestly heretical pope, with a tightly woven logic, gives systematic expression to the teaching of Pope Innocent III set forth in his Sermons; 1) on the point that the Roman Pontiff may be judged by no one, except for heresy, in which case he cannot be tried as pope and judged (deponendus), but, 2) he can only be shown to have already been judged – to have fallen from the Pontificate (depositus). Thus, the Church would exercise no power over the pope if it were to judge that the man occupying the cathedra had actually fallen from the pontificate by his heresy, but then the Church would only determine that the occupant of the throne, being a heretic, and thereby having fallen from the pontificate, is no longer the pope; and would therefore declare the See to be vacant, and proceed to the election of a new pope. It is in this broad sense that Bellarmine and Ballerini speak of the manner in which a heretical pope can be “deposed”.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that, “No canonical provisions exist regulating the authority of the College of Cardinals sede Romanâ impeditâ, i.e. in case the pope became insane, or personally a heretic; in such cases it would be necessary to consult the dictates of right reason and the teachings of history.” The teachings of history demonstrate that there is no such case in history in which a pope manifestly defected into formal heresy; and therefore it is not surprising that there do not exist any canonical provisions for such a case. Bellarmine himself stated that there has never been such a case, and (as quoted earlier) Archbishop John Purcell, who was present at the First Vatican Council, related that, «The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church […] and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself. » It is manifestly evident that the relator’s reply to the Cardinal did not refer to an internal heretic, since he further stated, «If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, […] or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, ‘I believe in Christ,’ etc. […] If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I”. »

What is particularly worthy of note, is that the reply to the Cardinal on the question of a pope who becomes a heretic, was given as a pure hypothesis, and was not considered as a serious possibility, as is evident from the relator’s words, “The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very ideabut serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility.” At the First Vatican Council, (as Pope Pius XI stated in the earlier cited passage of Providentissimus Deus) “the Fathers of the [1870] Vatican Council employed his [Bellarmine’s] writings and opinions to the greatest possible extent” – and indeed they adopted his teachings to the fullest extent on the question of a heretical pope, adopting his position on Opinion No. 1; as well as hypothetically adopting his position on Opinion No. 5. Thus, the opinion of Bellarmine, Ballerini, de Liguori, and Cappellari [Gregory XVI], (that a pope who becomes a manifest heretic, 1} “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church” [Bellarmine][68], 2] “by his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would  be necessary” [69], and would thus be said to have “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”[70] [Ballerini]; 3} “For the rest, if God should permit that a Pope should become a notorious and contumacious heretic, he would cease to be Pope, and the pontificate would be vacant” [St. Alphonsus de Liguori][71]; 4} “would be considered as a public schismatic and heretic, and in consequence, and to have fallen by himself from the pontificate, if he had been validly elevated to it”. [Gregory XVI][72]), was adopted by the Holy See under Pius IX at the First Vatican Council.

Ballerini applied this doctrine specifically to the case of Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII), who, “if one believes him to have been a true pontiff, by his own will ipso facto abdicated the primacy and the pontificate, [and] rightly and legitimately was able to be deposed by the Council as a schismatic and heretic”.[73] What is of the greatest importance to note is that the Council did not actually depose Benedict, but, as Ballerini explains, “by what means the divine providence employed the synod of Constance to end the most tenacious schism, so that that synod did not need to exercise any power of jurisdiction by its authority to depose any true, albeit unknown, actual Pontiff.” [74] Thus, Ballerini concludes, the Council did not declare that it had “deposed” him, but simply declared him to “be deposed” (depositum declaruit potius quam deposuit); and Gregory XVI likewise, “So then he could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from the pontificate, even if he had been validly elevated to it.” [75]

Ballerini expounded on Bellarmine’s doctrine on this point with great precision, explaining how a heretic pope would fall from the pontificate at the moment he manifests his pertinacity in heresy, and any action taken against him before that point is a work of charity – fraternal correction; but once he manifests that he is a heretic, he severs himself automatically from the body of the Church, falls from the Pontificate and ceases to be pope; and then, any judgment pronounced against him would be pronounced on one who already is no longer pope, and no longer superior to a council:
(Text highlighted in yellow has either been cut out or left out by Salza and Siscoe, and the faulty translation has been carefully crafted to falsify the authentic text of Ballerini, and to change his meaning, in order to make Ballerini as well as Bellarmine appear to be of the same opinion as Suarez.)[76]

Latin text: (Pietro Ballerini, De Potestate Ecclesiastica. Summor. Pont. Et Conc. Gen.Cap. IX § II. pp. 128-9)

«Cur vero in praesentissimo omniumque gravissimo periculo fidei, quod ex Pontifice haeresim privato licet judicio propugnante impendens, diuturniores moras non pateretur, remedium ex generalis synodi non ita facili convocatione expectandum credatur? Nonne etiam inferiores quicumque in tanto fidei discrimine superiorem suum correctione fraterna commonere queunt, in faciem eidem resistere, atque revincere; &, si opus sit, redarguere ac ad resipiscentiam urgere? Poterunt id Cardinales, qui ipsi a consiliis adstant; poterit Romanus Clerus; Romana etiam synodus, si expedire judicetur, congregata poterit. Quemcumque vel privatum respiciunt illa Pauli ad Titum: Haereticum hominem post unam & alteram correctionem devita, sciens quia subversus est, qui ejusmodi est, & delinquit, cum sit proprio judicio condemnatus. Qui nimirum semel & bis correptus non resiscipit, sed pertinax est in sententia dogmati manifesto aut definito contraria; hac sua publica pertinacia, cum ab haeresi proprie dicta, quae pertinaciam requitur, excusari nulla ratione potest; tum vero semetipsum palam declarant haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recississe, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Ecclesiae nulla cujusquam declaratione aut sententia necessaria sit. Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronymi ratio in laudata Pauli verba. Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus , quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, & cetera vitia per Sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsos sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio. Pontifex ergo, qui post tam solemnem et publicam Cardinalium, Romani Cleri, vel etiam synodi monitionem se se obfirmatum praeferret in haeresi, & de Ecclesia palam recessisset, juxta praeceptum Pauli esset vitandus; & ne aliis perniciem afferret, in publicum proferenda esset ejus haeresis, & contumacia, ut omnes similiter ab eo caverent, sicque sententia, quam in se ipsum tulit, toti Ecclesiae proposita, eum sua voluntate recessisse, & ab Ecclesiae corpore declararet avulsum, atque abdicasse quodammodo Pontificatum, quo nemo fruitur, nec frui potest, qui non sit in Ecclesia. Vides igitur in casu haeresis, cui Pontifex in privato sensu adhaereret, promptum & efficax remedium absque generalis synodi convocatione: qua in hypothesi quidquid contra ipsum ageretur ante declaratam ejus contumaciam & haeresim, ut ad sanum consilium adduceretur, caritatis, non jurisdictionis officium esset: postea vero manifestato ejus recessu ab Ecclesia, si quae sententia a concilio in eumdem ferretur, in eum ferretur, qui Pontifex amplius non esset, neque superior concilio. Sed haec (3) hypothesis nullo facto comprobatur; siquidem nullus vel privatus error cuipiam Pontifici adscriptus contra ullum dogma evidens aut definitum hactenus inventus est, aut futurus putatur. Quid igitur in mera hypothesi laboremus pluribus. »[77]

My literal translation:

«But why is it to be believed, that the remedy is to be expected from the not so easily done convocation of a general synod, when a most present and gravest of all  dangers for the faith, which, impending from a Pontiff espousing heresy even in his private judgment, would not be able to be endured through lengthy delays? In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction, resist him to the face, and subdue; and, if need be, refute and drive him to the recovery of his good sense? The Cardinals, who are there to advise him, will be able to do it; the Roman Clergy will be able to; even a Roman synod, if it is judged to be expedient, having been convened, will be able to. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition avoid : knowing that he that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” (Tit. 3, 10-11). He forsooth, who having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary. Conspicuous in this matter is the explanation of St. Jerome on the commended words of Paul. Therefore, by himself [the heretic] is said to be condemned, because the fornicator, adulterer, murderer, and those guilty of other misdeeds are driven out from the Church by the Priests: but heretics deliver the sentence upon themselves, departing from the Church by their own will: this departure is seen to be the condemnation by their own conscience. Therefore a Pontiff, who after such a solemn and public admonition from the Cardinals, Roman Clergy, or even a synod would maintain himself hardened in heresy, and have openly departed from the Church, according to the precept of Paul he would have to be avoided; and lest the ruin be brought to the rest, his heresy and contumacy, and thus his sentence which he brought upon himself, would have to be publicly pronounced, made known to the whole Church, that he by his own will departed, making known to be severed from the body of the Church, and in some manner to have abdicated the Pontificate, which no one holds or can hold, who is not in the Church. One sees in the case of heresy to which a Pontiff adhered in a private manner, an efficacious remedy without the convocation of a general synod: in which hypothesis whatever action that would be taken against him before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in order to bring him back to reason, would be a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction: but afterward, with his departure from the Church having been manifested, if a sentence were to be pronounced upon him by a council, it would be pronounced on him who would no longer be the Pontiff, nor superior to the council. But this (3) hypothesis is not established by any fact, since no private error ascribed to any Pontiff against any evident or defined dogma has been found, or is believed will be. Why then belabour further a mere hypothesis? »

The Salza and Siscoe version in True or False Pope:

“Is it not true that, confronted with such a danger to the faith [a Pope teaching heresy], any subject can, by fraternal  correction, warn their superior, resist him to his face, refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: ‘Avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is condemned by his own judgment’ (Tit. 3, 10-11). For the person, who, admonished once or twice, does not repent, but continues pertinacious in an opinion contrary to a manifest or defined dogma - not being able, on  account of this public pertinacity to be excused, by any means, of heresy properly so called, which requires pertinacity - this person declares himself openly a heretic. He reveals that by his own will he has turned away from the Catholic Faith and the Church, in such a way that now no declaration or sentence of anyone whatsoever is necessary to cut him from the body of the Church. Therefore the Pontiff who after such a solemn and public warning by the Cardinals, by the Roman Clergy or even by the Synod, would remain himself hardened in heresy and openly turn himself away from the Church, would have to be avoided, according to the precept of Saint Paul. So that he might not cause damage to the rest, he would have to have his heresy and contumacy publicly proclaimed, so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him. Thus, the sentence which he had pronounced  against himself would be made known to all the Church, making clear that by his own will he had turned away and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that in a certain way he had abdicated the Pontificate…”31 (TOFP pp. 245-6).

With such pre-eminent theologians as Pietro Ballerini and St. Alphonsus de Liguori in the 18thCentury, and Bartolomeo Cappellari (Gregory XVI) in the late 18th and early 19th Century, decisively adopting Bellarmine’s doctrine of automatic papal loss of office for manifest heresy (Opinion No. 5) as their own, the death knell for the legalistically flawed and conciliaristically tainted theology, formulated in Opinion No. 4 mainly by 16th and 17th Century Counter-Reformation theologians, was already sounding. Bellarmine’s teaching, that the Pope cannot be judged, echoes the ancient teaching that the Church of Rome (which is synonymous with Prima Sedes, i.e. the Roman Pontiff) absolutely cannot be judged by anyone, (which had already been taught by Pope St. Gelasius) ; and is asserted emphatically by Innocent III, confirmed by the fifth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent (which confirmed the status of the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge) , and proclaimed by the first Vatican Council; so it was inevitable that the Church would eventually enshrine the doctrine of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff in the 1917 and 1983 codes of Canon Law, declaring that the “First See is judged by no one” (Prima sedes a nemine judicatur.)[78]; and that loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy takes place automatically as a tacit renunciation of office. So, while the Church has not solemnly defined whether or not it is possible for a pope to fall into heresy, she has already taught infallibly that the pope cannot be judged, and therefore, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, the Church could only judge him after he would have fallen from office by himself as a consequence of defection from the faith. This is the doctrine advocated by St Robert Bellarmine at a time when the more common opinion was the doctrine of mitigated Conciliarism, that, a heretic pope would remain in office until he would be judged to be a heretic by the Church. Bellarmine applied the teaching of the Fathers, Doctors popes and councils to prove that a heretic pope would cease by himself to be pope, ipso facto, upon falling into heresy, thereby refuting the more prevalent opinion of the day, which was based on an interpretation tainted by Conciliarism of the spurious Canon Si papa, erroneously attributed to St. Boniface.

Bellarmine’s Argument

Bellarmine states the Fourth Opinion, which in its most radical form, is that of Cajetan (as well as John of St. Thomas): “that a manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed (non esse ipso facto depositum); but can and must to be deposed by the Church (sed posse, ac debere deponi ab ecclesia).” The distinction made by Bellarmine, as I have demonstrated above, is between a pope who simply “is deposed” (depositus) by pronouncing the judgment of heresy against himself by manifesting his obstinacy in heresy, thereby separating himself from the Church, ceasing to be a Christian, a member of the Church, and its head; and one who “can and must be deposed by the Church” (deponendus). The clear distinction between the two consists in the difference between a pope who “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can [then] be judged and punished by the Church” – “quare ab Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri” (per se depositus), (as Bellarmine explains in Opinion No. 5), and one who “is not ipso facto deposed”; i.e., does not cease by himself to be pope as a direct consequence of his own judgment pronounced against himself; but who remains in office as pope until he is judged, and must be judged by a juridical act of the authority of Church before he ceases to be pope (ab ecclesia deponendus) – in Bellarmine’s own words, sed posse, ac debere deponi ab ecclesia. Thus, it is patent that according to Bellarmine, what distinguishes Opinion No. 4 from Opinion No. 5 is that according to No. 5, the heretic loses office and ceases to be pope “by himself” (“per se”) “ipso facto”, since heretics are condemned by their own self-pronounced judgment upon themselves (sunt enim proprio judicio condemnati)[79]and for that reason he can then be judged by the Church; whereas according to Opinion No. 4, he must be judged by the Church in order to lose office, and he remains in office until he is judged by the Church.According to this  distinction which Bellarmine makes between Opinion No. 4 and Opinion No. 5: allthe variant opinions on this point which require the judgment of the Church as a necessary condition for the loss of office, for the very reason that they require the judgment of the Church in order for the loss of office to take place, fall under the heading of Opinion No. 4. Thus, not only Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Layman – but all others without exception, including Suarez, who hold or who have held this opinion (that the judgment of the Church is required for the loss of office to take place) are of Opinion No. 4. [80] “ Now in my judgment,” says Bellarmine, “such an opinion cannot be defended.”

He argues thus: “[T]hat a manifest heretic would be ipso facto deposed” (quod haereticus manifestus ipso facto depositus); and this, he says “is proven from authority and reason.” “The Authority,” he elaborates, “is of St. Paul, who commands Titus [323], that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious, an heretic is to be shunned: and he understands this before excommunication and sentence of a judge.” He speaks of the moral obligation to avoid a heretic after two admonitions, since it is only an excommunicatus who can be declared vitandus, and no one can excommunicate a pope, so consequently, a pope cannot be declared to be vitandus. So even if the Church had the power to administer juridical warnings to a pope, and thereby establish the crime of heresy, it would serve no purpose, since the Church could not declare him to be vitandus. Yet, Bellarmine explains, even without the sentence of excommunicatus vitandus, one could not avoid a pope, because one who remains pope cannot be shunned: “Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ, but a Pope who remains the Pope cannot be shunned. How will we shun our Head? How will we recede from a member to whom we are joined?” Bellarmine provides the solution to the problem in the same sentence, “heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ”. Therefore, a heretic can be shunned because heretics cease to be members of the Church. “Now in regard to reason this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book [324], and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach [325]. Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” And thus he argues, that it is proven from reason that a manifestly heretical pope is ipso facto deposed. One who is a manifest heretic simply is not pope, so a pope who would be a manifest heretic would not need to be deposed, because he ceases by himself to be pope and a member of the Church;

5

hence: “the fifth true opinion, is that a Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can be judged and punished by the Church.” “This is the opinion,” he continues, “of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics straightaway lose all jurisdiction”. Thus he concludes, “The foundation of this opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.”

COMMENTARY

It is manifestly evident that in the clearly stated context where he speaks of warnings, that Bellarmine  is not stating or implying that there is any need for canonical admonitions for a pope to lose office. It was the exponents of Opinion No. 4 who maintained that canonical admonitions are necessary for a pope to be deposed for heresy. Canonical admonitions are proper only to a superior, and are administered by a superior as the initial phase of a penal process[i]. Bellarmine qualifies the sense of the term as he means it to be understood with the words, “that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious”, thereby making it clear that the warnings are not part of a juridical procedure, but only serve the purpose of fraternal correction, and determining whether or not the pope in question “ceases by himself to be pope” by his heresy, ipso facto, and not by the ministerial instrumentality of any judgment at the conclusion of an official procedure, whereby the Church authorities would render a judgment on the supreme judge and ruler, and as a consequence of which the heretic Pontiff would only then fall from the Pontificate upon such judgment passed on him by his subjects and inferiors. Ballerini, a follower of Bellarmine’s opinion, understood perfectly that Bellarmine was not speaking of canonical admonitions being necessary in this context when he commented (in the above cited passage), “In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction [?]”; and, “For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold” – and he demonstrates that he understood well that Bellarmine’s reason for the Pontiff’s subjects to administer the warnings would not be an official act of ecclesiastical authority, but “a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction”, for the purpose only of discerning whether or not there is pertinacity, in order to determine whether or not the individual in question is properly a heretic who has fallen from the Pontificate: “having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic”.

Since Bellarmine speaks properly of an ipso facto loss of officewhich is essentially a tacit renunciation of office due to defection from the faith into heresy, the warnings are not strictly necessary as they normally would be in a penal canonical process of deprivation of office[81], by which ecclesiastical authority establishes the fact of pertinacity and inflicts the penalty, but are only of a relative and practical necessity to determine whether the Pontiff has only erred in ignorance or negligence without pertinacity, or rather if he has obstinately and consciously hardened in heresy, thereby ceasing by himself to be pope. (papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam) Thus, in such a case when the heresy of a pope is expressed in such a manner that the pertinacity is manifested sponte sua (as was the case of Pedro de Luna “Benedict XIII”[82]) against a manifestly evident dogma, or a defined dogma,  explicitly professed by all Christians; and especially if it be one of the principal dogmas, known even to the most ignorant Catholics, or known to all men as a matter of Natural Law, then it is patent that in such a case, no warnings would be necessary, being that warnings would be superfluous under those given circumstances; and therefore the fall from office for manifest heresy would be plainly evident as a judgment against himself as Bellarmine argues in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and therefore a tacit renunciation of office, as Ballerini understood Bellarmine’s opinion to be: that the Pope, “in some manner” would  “have abdicated the Pontificate”.

Now it might be argued that such a loss of office is a matter of law, and that the provisions for tacit renunciation set forth in the 1917 Code of Canon Law are not found in the New Code of 1983; however, the provisions for loss of office due to defection from the faith, which is in its very nature, a tacit but real renunciation; which is to say, not merely implicit, and not a penalty, remain in the 1983 Code in the third section on Loss of Office under Removal, which the Code explicitly distinguishes from the penalty of Privation of Office, dealt with in the fourth section.[83] Loss of office takes place by, 1) Renunciation, 2) Transfer, 3) Removal, and 4) Privation. The Code is explicit: Only loss of office by privation is a penalty[84], and is dealt with separately in the section of the Code that deals with penal law, whereas the first three sections on loss of office, under which is included Removal, are set forth in the second chapter (On the Loss of Ecclesiastical Office) of Title IX on ecclesiastical offices (De Officiis Ecclesiasticis). Nevertheless, Salza and Siscoe adamantly continue to maintain that loss of office by tacit renunciation (amotione) is a “severe vindictive penalty” which must be inflicted sententia ferenda.[85] (!) However, not only is the Code explicit on this point, but it is manifestly patent in the very nature of the acts that effect “removal”, that such loss of office is a tacit renunciation of office – acts such as attempting to marry, losing the clerical state, and defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, are intrinsically incompatible with the essential requirements for holding of ecclesiastical office, which can only be validly held by a Catholic cleric in major orders, and therefore such acts which are incompatible with the clerical state effect the removal from office, which is not penal in nature. Thus it is, as is patently clear from the wording of the canon, that the loss of ecclesiastical office takes place ipso facto, by the very act of defection into heresy, and does not require that a judgment be pronounced by Church authority as Salza and Siscoe claim[86]. Removal from office by means of loss of office due to tacit renunciation applies to all offices, including the papacy: The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught, in his General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law, on Loss of Ecclesiastical Offices, that such loss of office (Canons 185-191) “applies to all offices, the lowest and the highest, not excepting the Supreme Pontificate.” (p. 346)

Furthermore, as Bellarmine demonstrates from the teaching of the Fathers in his exposition on Opinion No. 4, loss of office due to heresy and schism is not a question of law: it is not the effect of any human law but, “Patres illi”, Bellarmine explains, “cum dicunt haereticos ammitere jurisdictionem, non allegant ulla jura humana, quae etiam forte tunc nulla extabant de hac re, sed argumentantur ex natura haeresis.[87] In a desperate and futile attempt to refute the argument of Bellarmine on this point, [which they do not attribute to Bellarmine, but to the Sedevacantists (!)], Salza and Siscoe adduce the argument of Billuart, based on the ruling of Martin V in 1418 during the Council of Constance. (Ad evitanda scandala) On this point, Bellarmine makes the very telling observation: “Nor does the response which some make avail, that these Fathers speak according to ancient laws, but now since the decree of the Council of Constance they do not lose jurisdiction, unless excommunicated by name, or if they strike clerics. I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy. Moreover, the Council of Constance does not speak except on the excommunicates, that is, on these who lose jurisdiction through a judgment of the Church.” In the previous sentence, Bellarmine establishes the unanimity of the Fathers, quoting an impressive array of Fathers, saying, “the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto.”

Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart (who quotes Martin V’s Ad evitanda scandala) in a futile attempt to refute Bellarmine and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers:

«I say that manifest heretics, unless they are denounced by name, or themselves depart from the Church, retain their jurisdiction and validly absolve.  This is proved by the Bull of Martin V, Ad evitanda scandala, [which reads thus]:

“To avoid the scandals and the many perils that can befall timorous consciences, we mercifully grant to the faithful of Christ, by the force of this decree (tenore praesentium), that henceforth no one will be obliged, under the pretext of any sentence or ecclesiastical censure generally promulgated by law or by man, to avoid the communion of any person, in the administration or reception of the Sacraments, or in any other matters sacred or profane, or to eschew the person, or to observe any ecclesiastical interdict, unless a sentence or censure of this kind shall have been published by a judge, and denounced specially and expressly, whether against a person, or a college, or university, or church, or a certain place or territory.  Neither the Apostolic Constitutions, nor any other laws remain in force to the contrary.”

Then [the Bull] lists, as the only exception, those who are notorious for having inflicted violence on the clergy.  From these lines, we argue that the Church is granting permission to the faithful to receive the sacraments from heretics who have not yet been expressly denounced by name; and, therefore, that she allows the latter to retain their jurisdiction for the valid administration of the sacraments, since otherwise the concession granted to the faithful would mean nothing.

Our argument is confirmed by the current praxis of the entire Church; for no one today ... avoids his pastor, even for the reception of the sacraments, as long as he is allowed to remain in his benefice, even if the man is, in the judgment of all or at least of the majority, a manifest Jansenist, and rebellious against the definitions of the Church; and so on with the rest. »

Billuart’s error consists in his failure to make a critical distinction between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, as a consequence of defecting from the faith and the Church, and thereby losing office and jurisdiction. Bellarmine points out that the decree only applies to excommunicates. Conlon, in the above cited article, observes: “As was previously noted Pope Martin V's Constitution "Ad Evitanda Scandala" of 1418 introduced the distinction between the tolerati and vitandi.  Though it may sound redundant, these laws regarding excommunicates, applies to all excommunicateseven heretics.  This is selfevident from the fact that the Church made no exceptions in regard to heretics when promulgating these laws concerning communication with excommunicates.” He quotes Suarez, “This new law established by the Council of Constance also extends to heretics and the words of Extrav.[Ad evitanda] prove this, which are both general and add an exception to confirm the rule towards everybody else.”[88] He then makes the very crucial point that the heretics to be considered vitandi must be excommunicates, and have been declared such: “Cardinal De Lugo, another eminent Catholic theologian, also affirms that the strict obligation to avoid a heretic depends on whether the Church has declared them, by name, as an excommunicate that is to be avoided.”[89] He quotes The Irish Ecclesiastical Record of 1886: “...according to the unanimous teaching of theologians the Constitution Ad evitanda includes heretics (excipiendis exceptis) equally with all other excommunicate in its provisions of toleration, so that, ex vi illius Constitutionis, as full communication with all heretics in quibuscumque divinis as with the rest of the excommunicate is granted to the faithful. Theologians make practically no distinction whatever on this point.   (Livius, p.38)” Conlon then quotes De Lugo again, mentioning the extremely important point that under certain circumstances, sacrament s may be received from such excommunicates, even heretics: “Cardinal De Lugo further teaches, in the same previously mentioned work of his, that communication with undeclared heretics is, in certain cases, also permitted in sacred matters”.[90]

The reason why Billuart’s failure to distinguish between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, is of such great consequence, is that the ordinary and habitual jurisdiction of the officeholder is lost upon loss of office due to tacit resignation; but the excommunicates were provided with supplied jurisdiction in virtue of Ad evitanda scandala, and by the subsequent legislation that later replaced its provisions. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is explained: “We may now proceed to enumerate the immediate effects of excommunication. They are summed up in the two well known verses: Res sacræ, ritus, communio, crypta, potestas, prædia sacra, forum, civilia jura vetantur, i.e. loss of the sacraments, public services and prayers of the Church, ecclesiastical burial, jurisdiction, benefices, canonical rights, and social intercourse. Potestas signifies ecclesiastical jurisdiction . . .”  The Encyclopedia then explains why the habitual and ordinary faculties and jurisdiction that are lost by excommunicati tolerati are replaced with supplied jurisdiction and faculties in virtue of the law itself: “It is easy to understand that the Church cannot leave her jurisdiction in the hands of those whom she excludes from her society. In principle, therefore, excommunication entails the loss of jurisdiction both in foro externo and in foro interno and renders null all acts accomplished without the necessary jurisdiction. However, for the general good of society, the Church maintains jurisdiction, despite occult excommunication, and supplies it for acts performed by the tolerati. But as the vitandi are known to be such, this merciful remedy cannot be applied to them except in certain cases of extreme necessity, when jurisdiction is said to be "supplied" by the Church.” Thus, Billuart erroneously deduced that “heretics retain their jurisdiction”, whereas all jurisdiction is lost by heretics, ex natura haeresis; but since heretics incur excommunication latae sententiae, jurisdiction was supplied by the decree Ad evitanda scandala.

Billuart’s failure to distinguish between retaining jurisdiction and receiving supplied jurisdiction in virtue of the law itself led him into error on the question of loss of jurisdiction of a heretic pope. Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart further: “the law and praxis of the Church require that a heretic be denounced before he loses his jurisdiction, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful.  But the Church does not require a denunciation for someone to be considered a public sinner, or to be repelled from Communion, because the welfare and tranquility of the faithful do not require that.  Also, it is not the business of the faithful to pass judgment on the jurisdiction of their ministers, and often it is impossible for them to do so; but this pertains to the superiors who grant the ministers their jurisdiction.  It pertains to the ministers, however, to pass judgment on those who receive the sacraments. ...”; and, “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ. Nowhere has it been declared that Christ would continue to give jurisdiction to a manifestly heretical Pope, since his heresy could become known to the Church, and the Church could provide another pastor for herself.  Nevertheless, the more common opinion (sententia communior)[91] holds that Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.” Billuart’s argues that since heretics retain jurisdiction “for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful”, therefore similarly, “Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.”  Bellarmine’s words crush Billuart’s thesis: “I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.” Hence, there can be no exception for any “special dispensation” from a loss of jurisdiction that results from the very nature of heresy. Heretics do not retain their jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is supplied to latae sententiae excommunicated heretics who not only lose all jurisdiction, by their excommunication, but ex natura haersis. Billuart correctly notes that “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ”, but the pope would cease to be a member of the Church and lose all jurisdiction from Christ if he fell into manifest heresy; and since the pope cannot incur excommunication, he could not receive supplied jurisdiction from such legislation as Ad evitanda scandala unless he were to fall from the Pontificate by tacit renunciation of office. Only then could he then incur excommunication latae sententiae, and straightaway receive supplied jurisdiction until his loss of office could be enforced by a declaratory sentence – but he would already have ceased to be pope.

Another huge error they make in their book is that, “‘public heresy’ and ‘public defection from the faith’ are two different things, and that the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence.” On page 139 of The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office, Fr. Gerald McDevitt writes: “The defection of faith must be public. It is to be noted immediately that adherence to or inscription in a non-catholic sect is not required to constitute the publicity that the canon demands.” In the above cited work, The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac comments on Canon 2197, that public defection from the faith means: “Public defection from the faith, by formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society. The offense must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long.” This is all that is required for loss of office to take place: the external act of defection that is public or liable to become public, before any judgment, and without any judgment pronounced by the Church. Any confusion that there may have been on this point is entirely cleared up in the 1983 Code, which speaks not only of defection from the faith as effecting loss of office, but of defection from communion with the Church (a communione Ecclesiae), which takes place by an act of heresy, schism or apostasy. As I mentioned on page one of this work, “St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism: ‘Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted.’” Defection from the faith is intrinsic to the act of heresy, which consists in the obstinate denial of some revealed truth of faith which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith; and therefore, defection from the faith cannot be understood to take place only when one joins some other sect or denomination; or when one openly declares oneself explicitly to have left the Church. Ecclesiastical laws must be understood according to the proper signification of the terms considered in their text and context[92] (Can. 17). Thus, the expression, ‘defection from the faith’  must be understood as the Church defines it, and not according to the  arbitrary whims of fundamentalists such as Salza and Siscoe, who gratuitously define the terms themselves in such a manner to make them appear to confirm the errant legalism of their heretical doctrines.

It must also be borne in mind that what is set forth in Canon Law on the nature of defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, and on the consequent loss of office resulting from such a defection, is not a matter of “merely ecclesiastical law” (as mere provisions of purely human positive law in the Code are referred to in Canon 11), but pertain to divine law revealed by God, and that these precepts of divine law are merely enshrined in the provisions of Canon Law that treat of loss of ecclesiastical office due to defection from the faith. That heresy, apostasy, and schism (as demonstrated in Part I) according to their very nature constitute defection from the faith, and sever a man from the body of the Church by themselves, apart from any human law, and therefore without any judgment or censure by ecclesiastical authority, must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. It is plainly set forth and proven by Bellarmine that it is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers interpreting scripture, that heresy in its very nature not only severs one from the Church, but also directly brings about the loss of ecclesiastical office before and even without any judgment of the Church; and being the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, it must be believed de fide. This has also been demonstrated in Part I of this work. Thus, the commentaries of the canonists which explain that defection from the faith takes place by acts of heresy, even without joining some other sect, and that the consequent loss of office takes place ipso facto (as an act of tacit renunciation of office), and does not per se, (as a matter of fact determined by doctrine and not by law), require any sentence or declaration by ecclesiastical authority to take place, do not express mere opinions on these points, but truths of faith which require an assent of faith. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have explicitly denied these truths of faith in their articles, in their interviews, and in their book, True Or False Pope.[93]

True or False Pope website: “After explaining the bonds that unite man to the true Church, the authors explain the distinction between heresy and lesser errors, and how the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church.”

Fr. Kramer (quoted by Salza & Siscoe): “With or without the law, the heretic by the very nature of the sin of heresy ceases to be a Catholic and is incapable of holding office. Bellarmine explains this in De Romano Pontifice.” The judgment of Salza and Siscoe, “with this utterly erroneous assertion it does not seem possible that he has even read Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice.”

CONCLUSION OF PART III

a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius”

In his earlier cited Fundamentaltheologie, Albert Lang points out that in the time of the Apostolic Fathers, there was no formulated theology of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, but he demonstrates that the exercise of the primacy of the Church Rome was already recognized and accepted by the other churches in the first Century, when St. Clement of Rome intervened and ruled in the affairs of the Church of Corinth. St. Irenaeus of Lyon asserted the Church’s doctrine on the universal authority of the magisterium of the Church of Rome, but in the early centuries there existed no developed formulation of legal principles clearly outlining the papal prerogatives and powers. Pope St. Damasus I is the first to refer to the See of Rome as the Sedes Apostolica. Pope St. Zozimus in Quamvis Patrum teaches that the authority of the Fathers attributes such authority to the Apostolic See, that no one would dare to dispute its judgment which is set forth in canons, regulations, and ecclesiastical laws.[94] Pope St. Gelasius, (as noted earlier) set forth the canons which declared the See of Rome to be the judge over the whole Church, which is judged by none, and against whose judgment there can be no appeal. During the pontificate of Leo I the plenitudo potestatis is first spoken of; and primacy of Rome was forcefully stated at Chalcedon and accepted by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Pope Innocent III set forth and theologically elaborated the doctrine of the primacy in terms of the plenitudo potestatis in his letter to the Patriarch John of Constantinople.[95] Laetentur Caeli[96] (Florence) then defines the papal primacy over the whole world and the “full power” of the Roman Pontiff for “ruling and governing the church”. But in spite of that “full power”, there has always been the belief in the Church that if the pope were to fall into heresy he can be judged for heresy, or rather,” as Innocent III qualifies it, he “can be shown to be already judged.” Hinschius points out the early example of such a case at the sixth general Council (Third Council of Constantinople), where the posthumous condemnation for heresy of Pope Honorius I was confirmed by Pope Leo II, and several popes subsequently upheld the admissibility of such a judgment.[97] Nevertheless, he was never proven to have been a formal heretic, and he was not judged by his inferiors during his lifetime, nor was he deposed. In a passage I quoted in Part I of this work, Hinschius pointed out that there has been a series of Catholic writers, and in particular St. Robert Bellarmine, who find no exception in such a case to the rule that the pope is judged by no one, because the pope who falls into heresy would thereby sever himself from the Church by himself in such a manner that the Church would not be able to impose a deposition, but would only be able to establish the loss of the papal dignity that has already taken place; and that this line of thought is already found in Pope Innocent III’s Sermo IV. In consecrat. pontiff.[98]

It is certainly not surprising that Innocent III taught that if a pope would “wither away into heresy”, he would automatically cease to be pope; and it is no mystery from whom he learned that doctrine. The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (under Uguccio) relates, “Uguccio (Hugh of Pisa) studied theology and probably canon law at Bologna, before teaching there; among his pupils was the future Pope Innocent III.” The Catholic Encyclopedia adds, “Among his pupils was Lothario de' Conti, afterwards Innocent III, who held him in high esteem as is shown by the important cases which the pontiff submitted to him, traces of which still remain in the "Corpus Juris" (c. Coram, 34, X, I, 29). Two letters addressed by Innocent III to Huguccio were inserted in the Decretals of Gregory IX (c. Quanto, 7, X, IV, 19; c. In quadam, 8, X,III,41). Besides a book, "Liber derivationum", dealing with etymologies, he wrote a "Summa" on the "Decretum" of Gratian, concluded according to some in 1187, according to others after 1190, the most extensive and perhaps the most authoritative commentary of that time.” It was in his Summa that, “Huguccio argued, in a widely known opinion, that a pope who fell into heresy automatically lost his see, without the necessity of a formal judgment.[4][99] Thus, we find the doctrine, (which Salza and Siscoe claim is an invention of the Sedevacantists), that a pope who would become a heretic, would lose office automatically; being taught in Bologna in the 12th Century by the most eminent canonist of that century, Huguccio of Pisa, whose student, Lothair de Conti, as Pope Innocent III taught that same doctrine in his sermons. St. Robert Bellarmine and Don Pietro Ballerini theologically explicated that doctrine, which was adopted by the first Vatican Council. The doctrine that all who defect from the faith into heresy or apostasy lose ecclesiastical office automatically was then incorporated into the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law. It is on this solid doctrinal basis that the inescapable conclusion rests, namely, that the only doctrinally orthodox opinions that are possible today on the question of a manifestly heretical pope are Opinion No. 1, and Opinion No. 5 considered as a pure hypothesis.

I have already pointed out in Section II of this Part, the fatal defect in the opinion that it is even possible for a pope to become a heretic, given the divine promise to Peter and his successors of unfailing faith. The opinion, explained by Cardinal Stickler in the article I quoted seems to have originated from Huguccio, and was taken up by Ostiense and others. The New Catholic Encyclopedia (under Conciliarism) explains, «Huguccio also considered the question of how the possibility of a pope erring in faith, which he admitted, could be reconciled with the ancient doctrine that the true faith would always live on in the Roman Church. His answer was based on a distinction between the local Roman Church and the universal Roman Church. "The Roman Church is said to have never erred in faith… but I say that the whole Catholic Church which has never erred in toto is called the Roman Church." And again, "Wherever there are good faithful men there is the Roman Church." This distinction between the proneness to error of a pope and the indefectibility of the whole Church became a most important element in later conciliar theories. » The defect of Huguccio’s notion of the “Roman Church” is so patent, that it needs only to be pointed out without further elucidation, except to say; that the sense which Huguccio gives to the term is entirely alien to the sense according to which it was used in the canons of St. Gelasius, which is its proper sense, and is the way it has always been generally understood since the doctrinal pre-eminence of the Roman Church was explained by St. Irenaeus.

The Encyclopedia continues, «Huguccio's views were repeated with various modifications by the canonists of the early 13th century. Some taught that a pope could be condemned only for heresy, not for notorious crimes in general. Others held that he could be deposed for professing a new heresy and not for only adhering to an old one. All agreed that a doctrinal definition of a general council, that is of pope and bishops acting together, possessed a higher authority than the bare word of a pope alone. A few accepted the more radical view that a decision of the fathers of a council acting in concert against the pope should be preferred to the pope's decision. Sometimes the language employed was ambiguous, and perhaps deliberately so. The Glossa Ordinaria to the Decretum of Joannes Teutonicus, a work used as a standard text in canon law schools throughout the Middle Ages, declared simply, "Where a matter of faith is involved a council is greater than a pope." »

It is precisely this idea, "where a matter of faith is involved a council is greater than a pope," which is the basis of the Conciliarist Argument, which is Opinion No. 4. It is the foundation of the argument which holds that a council can canonically admonish a pope, and if he remains obstinate in heresy, can then pronounce judgment upon him so that he then falls from office; and according to some, a council would even need to pronounce a vitandus sentence upon the heretic pope for him to fall from office – a sentence which presumes the power to excommunicate the heretic Pontiff, because as explained earlier, only an excommunicatus can be pronounced “vitandus”.

St. Robert Bellarmine, in the following segment of De Romano Ponifice (Book II Chapter XXX) on Opinion No. 4 (precisely and accurately translated by Ryan Grant) destroyed this argument that a pope can be judged by the Church, by explaining that neither the bishops nor the cardinals have any power over a pope, (and to pronounce official judgment on a pope is to exercise power of jurisdictionover a pope):

"Next, what Cajetan says in the second place, that a heretical Pope who is truly Pope can be deposed by the Church, and from its authority seems no less false than the first. For, if the Church deposes a Pope against his will, certainly it is over the Pope. Yet the same Cajetan defends the opposite in the very same treatise. But he answers; the Church, in the very matter, when it deposes the Pope, does not have authority over the Pope, but only on that union of the person with the pontificate. As the Church can join the pontificate to such a person, and still it is not said on that account to be above the Pontiff; so it can separate the pontificate from such a person in the case of heresy, and still it will not be said to be above the Pope. 

"On the other hand, from the very fact that the Pope deposes bishops, they deduce that the Pope is above all bishops, and still the Pope deposing a bishop does not destroy the Episcopacy; but only separates it from that person. Secondly, for one to be deposed from the pontificate against his will is without a doubt a penalty; therefore, the Church deposing a Pope against his will, without a doubt punished him; but to punish is for a superior and a judge. Thirdly, because according to Cajetan and the other Thomists, in reality they are the same, the whole and the parts are taken up together. Therefore, he who has so great an authority over the parts taken up together, such that he can also separate them, also has it over the whole, which arises from those parts. 

"Furthermore, the example of Cajetan does not avail on electors, who have the power of applying the pontificate to a certain person, and still does not have power over the Pope. For while a thing is made, the action is exercised over the matter of the thing that is going to be, not over a composite which does not yet exist, but while a thing is destroyed, the action is exercised over a composite; as is certain from natural things. Therefore, when Cardinals create the Pontiff, they exercise their authority not over the Pontiff, because he does not yet exist; but over the matter, that is, over the person whom they dispose in a certain measure through election, that he might receive the form of the pontificate from God; but if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite, that is, over the person provided with pontifical dignity, which is to say, over the Pontiff."

The belief that a reigning Pontiff, by way of exception, can be juridically judged for heresy by his inferiors, has neither a basis in scripture nor in the doctrinal tradition of the Church. It was a theory of law developed by canonists, based on the spurious Canon Si papa, and gained momentum under the influence of Conciliarism, and later became the more common opinion of theologians during the Counter-Reformation period. Its remote origin was the spurious Canon Si papa. Its demise was the result of the influence of the doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine on the theologians of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. By the Twentieth Century, with the principle, “Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur” enshrined as a universal statute of Canon Law, and unanimously interpreted in such a manner that no exception can be considered admissible, Opinion No. 4, promoted by so many canonists and theologians of the Counter-Reformation period, experienced its demise, having been all but universally abandoned by theologians.

In spite of the antiquity and unequivocal nature of the principle that the first See is judged by no one, it is contrasted by the historical fact of depositions of popes, and a tradition of some canonists which held that a pope could be judged by a general council. On this point of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff, Hinschius makes a poignant observation and asks, ”But with this theory [the injudicability of the pope] there stands in contrast the undeniable fact several times during the course of the earlier centuries, depositions of popes had taken place, which brings up the question whether these depositions were only blameworthy violations of a principle of law indisputably held in the Catholic Church from the beginning, or was it not rather that this principle became fixed only later in the course of its development?” [100] His answer to the question is emphatic and unequivocal: “A detached consideration without presuppositions of the particular occurrences that enter into the question would appear to justify the latter conception. During the time of the Roman Empire and throughout the greater part of the Middle Ages, in which the opposition between the Pontificate and the Episcopacy was not yet the driving factor of the development, rather the bishops for the most part, and only in part joined with the secular power, we encounter only cases, where the secular rulers, took part in the depositions at councils, while toward the end of the Middle Ages, as the downtrodden Episcopacy, by means of the earlier conception, raised its head and sought to decrease the papal prerogatives, bringing practically into effect the claimed supremacy over the popes by means of depositions.”[101]

Don Curzio Nitoglia quotes Fr. Salvatorre Vacca, who elaborates on his point of the two conflicting canonical traditions that were simultaneously present in the Church: “Gratian, in order to establish the principle of the injudicability of the pope, as opposed to the previous canonical tradition […] left the principle Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur unshaken. However, he partially transcribed the Fragmentum A (174-178) of Umberto di Silva Candida. He thus gathered into his Decretum the two conflicting juridical traditions which were present together in the Church: the first, maintained by the Symmachian Apocrypha [Pope St. Symmachus (498 – 514) put under the judgment of the particular council known as the Synod ad Palmaria in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican by the Emperor Theodoric in 501. During the course of the controversy, numerous polemical writings were drafted, among them the Symmachian Apocrypha, put together by the supporters of Pope Symmachus, which stated the axiom Summa Sedes a nemine iudicatur Ed] affirms that the Pope cannot be judged by anyone; the second holds, that in the case of heresy the Pope can be caught on heresy. So, this conception was passed down until the 12th Century […].” [102]

So, even long after the principle Apostolica sedes a nemine judicatur had established the absolute injudicability of the pope, and had become firmly entrenched in the canonical tradition of the Church, the “earlier conception” was still resorted to by the Episcopacy, not only to counterbalance the supreme authority of the pope, but even to challenge papal supremacy and exert supremacy over the pope. The New Catholic Encyclopedia elaborates: «The circumstances in which a pope's pronouncements could be regarded as infallible had been neither defined nor much discussed. It was generally accepted that a pope could err in faith and it seemed intolerable that the whole Church should be thrown into confusion as a result. There was a need then to find norms that might set proper limits to the powers even of a pope. In seeking such norms the canonists turned to the general councils of the past and it became commonplace around 1200 to assert that the pope was bound by the canons of councils "in matters touching the faith and the general state of the Church."

This raised the problem of how to deal with a pope who offended against such canons. The most eminent canonist of the age, Huguccio, discussed the problem at length. He concluded that a pope who publicly professed his adherence to a known heresy could be deposed by the Church and, further, that a pope who contumaciously persisted in notorious crime could likewise be deposed since "to scandalize the Church is like committing heresy." »
    
Pope Innocent III affirmed in his ordinary magisterium that the Roman Pontiff cannot be judged by men for any crime, but if he were to fall into heresy, he could be “shown to be already judged”. Enrico da Susa, known as “l'Ostiense”, came after Innocent III, and accordingly, «believed that while the pope should follow positive law he was not bound by it. Thus the pope could not be tried for any crime, except that of heresy, in which case “the pope could be subject to the 'ecclesia' (the Church)." For any other violation of law the pope could be judged by no one save God. »[103] As the passage from Cardinal Stickler which I quoted in the previous section, explains, according to E. da Susa and his contemporaries, «In the case of an obstinate and public profession of certain heresy, since it is condemned by the Church, the Pope becomes "minor quolibet catholico" (a common phrase of canonists) and ceases to be pope (...).» Although not solemnly defined, this doctrine is clearly the doctrine of the Catholic Church in respect to all offices in the Church, being enshrined in both the 1917 and 1983 codes of Canon Law, in the canons on Tacit Loss of Office (1917), and Removal (1983); and therefore, if it were possible for a pope to become a formal heretic, he could be deposed only in the qualified sense that he could be shown to be already judged – judged to have already fallen from office. Hence, any opinion or theory which postulates any exception to the principle, Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur, and accordingly therefore that a pope can be judged by the Church for heresy before he falls from office on the basis of a literal application of the principle cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius, is contrary to the Catholic faith.

This is manifestly evident in view of the fact that not only did St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrate that the Fathers teach unanimously that heretics cease to be members of the Church automatically by their heresy (as St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism, and Pius XII in Mystici Corporis), and by the very nature of heresy (ex natura haeresis) lose office and all jurisdiction; but ultimately because the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff defined by Vatican I is the plenitudo potestatis taught by Innocent III, the potestas absoluta taught by Ostiense,[104] and the plena potestas defined at Florence; to which essentially pertains the power of the supreme judge  (as constantly taught by the Church and in the decrees of the Council of Trent and in Pastor Aeternus), whose judgment may be questioned by no one (Quamvis PatrumPastor Aeternus, etc.), and who absolutely cannot be judged by anyone.[105]

Although the Counter-Reformation canonists were understandably phobic about the impetus such a doctrine as that of automatic loss of the papal office for heresy without the judgment of the Church might provide for the abusive application of the Protestant principle of Private Judgment against the Papacy, the ancient principle of law remains ever valid, that the abuse of a right does not nullify the right to its legitimate exercise. Their understandable concern for the possibility and even the likelihood that private individuals could seize upon the right to judge privately as a matter of conscience, and abuse it in the manner that it was abused by Luther to pronounce the pope a heretic, led them to adopt the opposite extreme, equally harmful and heterodox, according to which even a manifestly heretical pope remains in office and retains jurisdiction until the Church, by a juridical act pronounces judgment on him; and that private individuals may not avail themselves of their God-given right and last means of defense against the ravenous wolf, to form an opinion to acknowledge even the most manifest and patent public rejection of the Catholic faith by a heretic pope; and as a consequence to be compelled to remain subject to him, and be in communion with the public enemy of the Church for months, years or even decades, until the Church, by some miracle of providence, can finally be able to pronounce a judgment which effectively results in the heretic’s deposition. The word “manifest” means, “clear or obvious to the eye or mind”. If not only the matter of heresy is clearly manifest, but the conscious and willful profession of “a doctrine that immediately, directly, and contradictorily opposes the truths revealed by God and authentically set forth as such by the Church,”[106] is patently obvious to the mind, then the person who professes it may be judged by others to be a heretic, even without a judicial pronouncement of the Church, since no one needs any official declaration to be made in order to form a judgment of opinion on a matter that by its very nature is already “clear or obvious to the eye or mind”. The proposition that one is not a manifest heretic until an ecclesiastical judge pronounces that one is a manifest heretic is absurd on its face, since by the very fact that the heresy is manifest, it is already “clear or obvious to the eye or mind” before any judgment is pronounced; yet this is precisely the silliness that John Salza and Robert Siscoe maintain in their rabid legalism. However, it is clearly the doctrine of the Catholic faith that if a person is a manifest heretic, then it is manifest that heresy has suapte natura severed that one from the body of the Church, and if he is a holder of ecclesiastical office, he has automatically lost office and all habitual or ordinary jurisdiction ex natura haeresis, before any sentence is pronounced by the Church.

It is plainly evident that the Counter-Reformation theologians and canonists who subscribed to Opinion No. 4 theorized a hypothetical scenario of a pope who falls into manifest heresy, in which the rest of the hierarchy, or at least the vast majority of it would still be orthodox in their faith, and who would administer correction to an errant Pontiff, and pronounce judgment upon him if he were to remain obstinate in heresy. However, when a sizable portion of the hierarchy is already in heresy, and the vast majority is to some degree infected by the heresy, one can easily understand how such a manifestly heretical “pope” would be tolerated and even fully accepted as a legitimate pope by the majority of bishops and cardinals. In his Dialogue Against the Luciferians, St. Jerome remarked, “The whole world groaned and was astonished to find itself Arian.” In Chaper 4 of his Commonitory, St. Vincent of Lérins says, “when the Arian poison had infected not an insignificant portion of the Church but almost the whole world, so that a sort of blindness had fallen upon almost all the bishops of the Latin tongue, circumvented partly by force partly by fraud, and was preventing them from seeing what was most expedient to be done in the midst of so much confusion”.

It is plainly evident that in our own time, a sort of blindness has fallen upon almost all the bishops of the Latin Church. With a prophetic insight, more than 1,500 years ago St. Vincent described the present condition of the Church today: “if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole”. Under such circumstances, the clergy and faithful cannot reasonably be expected to suspend judgment on manifest heresy until the Church pronounces officially, and remain subject to a ravenous wolf and destroyer of souls – quod esset miserrima conditio Ecclesiæ, si lupum manifeste grassantem, pro pastore agnoscere cogeretur. (Bellarminus).



[1] Enciclopedia Italiana 1932

[2] Dictionnarire de théologie catholique, VI, ii

[3] Oderberg, David S. (2011). "Heresies". In Kurian, George T. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. 1. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 1119.

[4] St. Alphonsus M. De Liguori, Lib. II. Tract. I. De præcepto Fidei. Dubium III.

[5] "11. Si risponde pertanto ai Semipelagiani che gl'infedeli i quali giunti all'uso di ragione non si convertono alla fede non sono degni di scusa; perché, quantunque non ricevano la grazia sufficiente prossima, almeno non sono destituiti della grazia rimota e mediata per convertirsi alla fede. E qual è questa grazia rimota? È quella che insegna il dottore Angelico1, il quale scrive: Si quis nutritus in silvis, vel inter bruta animalia ductum rationis naturalis sequeretur in appetitu boni et fuga mali, certissime est credendum quod ei Deus vel per internam inspirationem revelaret ea, quae sunt ad credendum necessaria; vel aliquem fidei praedicatorem ad eum dirigeret, sicut misit Petrum ad Cornelium. Sicché secondo s. Tommaso agl'infedeli che son giunti all'uso di ragione almeno vien data da Dio la grazia rimotamente sufficiente per salvarsi; la quale grazia consiste in una certa istruzione della mente ed in una mozion della volontà ad osservar la legge naturale; alla quale mozione se coopera l'infedele, osservando i precetti della natura, con astenersi dai peccati gravi, riceverà appresso certamente per i meriti di Gesù Cristo la grazia prossimamente sufficiente ad abbracciar la fede ed a salvarsi." (Sant'Alfonso Maria de Liguori, Storia delle Eresie; I edizione - Maggio 2003, p. 313.)

[6] Bishop George Hay; The Sincere Christian Instructed in the Faith of Christ; Dublin, 1822, p. 341-2.

[7] Commentarium Sancti Thomæ Aq. super ep. S. Pauli ad Galatas, cap. I, lect. ii.

[8] St. Thomas, Summa Theol., IIa IIae, q.5, a. 3.

[9] Theologia Moralis, P. F. Anaclet Reiffenstuel, Munich, 1715, p. 202.

[10] Catechismo filosofico, o raccolta d'osservazioni atte a difendere la religione cristiana contro de' suoi nemici. Opera del sig. abate F. X. De Feller tradotta dal francese secondo la terza edizione di Liegi corretta, e notabilmente accresciuta; Tomo III, Milano, 1828,  p. 203.

[11] Alfonso Maria de Liguori; Opere Morali, volume decimosesto, Torino 1829, pp. 66-7.

[12] THEOLOGIAE FUNDAMENTALIS Tractatus prior. Demonstratio christiano-catholica contra adversarios generatim omnes TRACTATUS DUO. SCRIPSIT SAC. F. H. REINERDING, H. ET. PH. DR. ET TH. PROF. IN SEMINARIO FULDENSI,     . Monasterii Guestphalorum. SUMPTIBUS LIBRARIAE ASCHENDORFFIANAE.

[13] Patritius Sporer, Theologia Moralis Super Decalogum, Salzburg, 1722, p. 175.

[14] Jus Canonicum by Franz Xavier  Wernz S.J. and Pedro  Vidal S.J. (1938) Chapter VII; and, Jus Canonicum, Roma, Gregoriana, 1943, vol. II, p. 517

[15] Institutiones Iuris Canonici. 5th ed. Santander: Sal Terrae, 1956. 1:396

[16] Pope Pius XI, Decree Providentissimus Deus (declaring St. Robert Bellarmine a Doctor of the Church), 17 Sept, 1931.

[17] “The first is of Albert Pighius, who contends that the Pope cannot be a heretic, and hence would not be deposed in any case [319]: such an opinion is probable, and can easily be defended, as we will show in its proper place. Still, because it is not certain, and the common opinion is to the contrary, it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”

[18] It is proved: 1) because it seems to require the sweet disposition of the providence of God. For the Pope not only should not, but cannot preach heresy, but rather should always preach the truth. He will certainly do that, since the Lord commanded him to confirm his brethren, and for that reason added: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith shall not fail,” that is, that at least the preaching of the true faith shall not fail in thy throne. How, I ask, will a heretical Pope confirm the brethren in faith and always preach the true faith? Certainly God can wrench the confession of the true faith out of the heart of a heretic just as he placed the words in the mouth of Balaam’s ass. Still, this will be a great violence, and not in keeping with the providence of God that sweetly disposes all things.

[19] 28 «And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said: What have I done to thee? Why strikest thou me, lo, now this third time?29 Balaam answered: Because thou hast deserved it, and hast served me ill: I would I had a sword that I might kill thee. 30 The ass said: Am not I thy beast, on which thou hast been always accustomed to ride until this present day? tell me if I ever did the like thing to thee. But he said: Never. »

[20] «Respondeo dicendum quod impossibile est dicere quod essentia animae sit eius potentia; licet hoc quidam posuerint. Et hoc dupliciter ostenditur, quantum ad praesens. Primo quia, cum potentia et actus dividant ens et quodlibet genus entis, oportet quod ad idem genus referatur potentia et actus. Et ideo, si actus non est in genere substantiae, potentia quae dicitur ad illum actum, non potest esse in genere substantiae. Operatio autem animae non est in genere substantiae; sed in solo Deo, cuius operatio est eius substantia. Unde Dei potentia, quae est operationis principium, est ipsa Dei essentia. Quod non potest esse verum neque in anima, neque in aliqua creatura; ut supra etiam de Angelo dictum est. Secundo, hoc etiam impossibile apparet in anima. Nam anima secundum suam essentiam est actus. Si ergo ipsa essentia animae esset immediatum operationis principium, semper habens animam actu haberet opera vitae; sicut semper habens animam actu est vivum. Non enim, inquantum est forma, est actus ordinatus ad ulteriorem actum, sed est ultimus terminus generationis. Unde quod sit in potentia adhuc ad alium actum, hoc non competit ei secundum suam essentiam, inquantum est forma; sed secundum suam potentiam. Et sic ipsa anima, secundum quod subest suae potentiae, dicitur actus primus, ordinatus ad actum secundum. Invenitur autem habens animam non semper esse in actu operum vitae. Unde etiam in definitione animae dicitur quod est actus corporis potentia vitam habentis, quae tamen potentia non abiicit animam. Relinquitur ergo quod essentia animae non est eius potentia. Nihil enim est in potentia secundum actum, inquantum est actus. » (Summa Theol. 1.77.1)

[21] «Respondeo dicendum quod necesse est ponere plures animae potentias. Ad cuius evidentiam, considerandum est quod, sicut philosophus dicit in II de caelo, quae sunt in rebus infima, non possunt consequi perfectam bonitatem, sed aliquam imperfectam consequuntur paucis motibus; superiora vero his adipiscuntur perfectam bonitatem motibus multis; his autem superiora sunt quae adipiscuntur perfectam bonitatem motibus paucis; summa vero perfectio invenitur in his quae absque motu perfectam possident bonitatem. Sicut infime est ad sanitatem dispositus qui non potest perfectam consequi sanitatem, sed aliquam modicam consequitur paucis remediis melius autem dispositus estqui potest perfectam consequi sanitatem, sed remediis multis; et adhuc melius, qui remediis paucis; optime autem, qui absque remedio perfectam sanitatem habet. »

[22]« Respondeo dicendum quod, cum anima sit una, potentiae vero plures; ordine autem quodam ab uno in multitudinem procedatur; necesse est inter potentias animae ordinem esse. Triplex autem ordo inter eas attenditur. Quorum duo considerantur secundum dependentiam unius potentiae ab altera, tertius autem accipitur secundum ordinem obiectorum. Dependentia autem unius potentiae ab altera dupliciter accipi potest, uno modo, secundum naturae ordinem, prout perfecta sunt naturaliter imperfectis priora; alio modo, secundum ordinem generationis et temporis, prout ex imperfecto ad perfectum venitur. Secundum igitur primum potentiarum ordinem, potentiae intellectivae sunt priores potentiis sensitivis, unde dirigunt eas et imperant eis. Et similiter potentiae sensitivae hoc ordine sunt priores potentiis animae nutritivae. Secundum vero ordinem secundum, e converso se habet. Nam potentiae animae nutritivae sunt priores, in via generationis, potentiis animae sensitivae, unde ad earum actiones praeparant corpus. Et similiter est de potentiis sensitivis respectu intellectivarum. Secundum autem ordinem tertium, ordinantur quaedam vires sensitivae ad invicem, scilicet visus, auditus et olfactus. Nam visibile est prius naturaliter, quia est commune superioribus et inferioribus corporibus. Sonus autem audibilis fit in aere, qui est naturaliter prior commixtione elementorum, quam consequitur odor. »

[23] Respondeo dicendum quod, cum per habitum perficiatur potentia ad agendum, ibi indiget potentia habitu perficiente ad bene agendum, qui quidem habitus est virtusubi ad hoc non sufficit propria ratio potentiae. Omnis autem potentiae propria ratio attenditur in ordine ad obiectum. Unde cum, sicut dictum est, obiectum voluntati sit bonum rationis voluntati proportionatum, quantum ad hoc non indiget voluntas virtute perficiente. Sed si quod bonum immineat homini volendum, quod excedat proportionem volentis; sive quantum ad totam speciem humanam, sicut bonum divinum, quod transcendit limites humanae naturae, sive quantum ad individuum, sicut bonum proximi; ibi voluntas indiget virtute. Et ideo huiusmodi virtutes quae ordinant affectum hominis in Deum vel in proximum, sunt in voluntate sicut in subiecto; ut caritas, iustitia et huiusmodi. (Ia IIæ 56 a.6)

[24] Iª q. 77 a. 5

[25] Iª q. 77 a. 5 ad 1

[26]  «Ego tamen facile non crediderim, ut Deus permitteret Romanum pontificem contra fidem errare: pro quo spiritualiter oravit in Petro: <Ego, inquit, pro te rogavi, Petre, etc. (Luc.xxii),> Ergo qui habet sponsam, sponsus est. Haec autem sponsa non nupsit vacua, sed dotem mihi trihuit absque pretio pretiosam, spirilualium videlicet plenitudinem et latitudinem temporalium, magnitndinem et multiudinem utrorumque. Nam caeteri vocati sunt in partem sollicitudinis, solus autem Petrus assumptus est in plenitudinem potesatis. » (Sermo III De Deversis); «Tu, inquit, vocaberis Cephas (Joan. 1), quod exponitur caput; quia sicut in capite consistit omnium sensuum plenitudoin cæteris autem  membris pars est aliqua plenitudinis: ita cæteri vocati sunt in partem sollicitudinis, solus autem Petrus assumptus est in plenitudinem potestatis. » (Sermo II De Diversis)

[27] «Nisi enim ego solidaltus essem in fide, quomodo possem alios in fide firmare? » (Sermo II, De 
Diversis); «Ego tamen facile non crediderim, ut Deus permitteret Romanum pontificem contra fidem errare» (Sermo III De Deversis)

[28] «Nam Pontifex non solum non debet, nec potest haeresim praedicare, sed etiam debet veritatem semper docere, & sine dubio id faciet, […] at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? »

[29] http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.ie/2016/12/de-mattei-irrevocable-duties-of.html?m=1

[30] cf.  —  Christopher Conlon; The  Non-Infallibility of  Cum  Ex Apostolatus Officio.

[31] “2) It is proved ab eventu. For to this point no [Pontiff] has been a heretic, or certainly it cannot be proven that any of them were heretics; therefore it is a sign that such a thing cannot be [410].”

[32] Sermo II, De Diversis

[33] A canonical primer on popes and heresy(https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/a-canonical-primer-on-popes-and-heresy/)

[34] «la prima opinione o meglio l’antecedente, che è quella insegnata comunemente come la più probabile dalla maggior parte dei teologi e dei Dottori: S. Roberto Bellarmino, Francisco Suarez, Melchior Cano, Domingo Soto, Giovanni da San Tommaso, Juan de Torquemada, Louis Billot, Joachim Salaverri, A. Maria Vellico, Charles Journet (ed anche il Gaetano non citato dal Da Silveira, ma lo dimostra mons. Vittorio Mondello, ne La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, Messina, Istituto Arti Grafiche di Sicilia, 1965, cap. V, pp. 163-194 e cap. VI, pp. 195-224) è che il Papa come Papa non può  cadere in eresia formale, mentre può favorire l’eresia o cadere in eresia materiale come dottore privato oppure come Papa, ma solo nel magistero non definitorio, non obbligante e quindi non infallibile (cfr. A. X. Da Silveira, p. 33, nota 1; cfr. B. Gherardini, Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II. Un discorso da fare, Frigento, Casa Mariana Editrice, 2009; Tradidi quod et accepi. La Tradizione, vita e giovinezza della Chiesa, Frigento, Casa Mariana Editrice, 2010;Concilio Vaticano II. Il discorso mancato, Torino, Lindau, 2011; Quaecumque dixero vobis. Parola di Dio e Tradizione a confronto con la storia e la teologia, Torino, Lindau, 2011; La Cattolica. Lineamenti d’ecclesiologia agostiniana, Torino, Lindau, 2011). »

[35] «Se si studia bene il pensiero di don Pietro Ballerini si vede che secondo lui il Papa è obbligato a sottomettersi alla fede soprannaturale e alla morale naturale e divina; non ha nessuna autorità umano/ecclesiastica sopra di lui, ma il suo potere è limitato da quello di Dio di cui è il Vicario in terra; soltanto quando definisce e obbliga a credere è infallibile; come dottore privato opinando su questioni non ancora definite può errare; infine in caso di eventuale e possibile eresia esterna il Ballerini non si oppone alla possibilità che il Papa vi cada, non trattandosi di definizioni, ma ritiene che ciò non si è mai verificato nella corso della storia della Chiesa e non si verificherà mai. »

[36] https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/a-canonical-primer-on-popes-and-heresy/

[37] Interview with Catholic World Report, December 8 2016

[38] Manuale Iuris Canonci. Freiburg im Briesgau: Herder 1927. p. 95

[39] Institutiones Iuris Canonici. Rome: Marietti 1950. I:3I2, p. 3I6

[40] «Multi canones docent , Pontificem non posse judicari, nisi inveniatur a fide devius;  ergo potest deviare a Fide: alioqui frustra essent illi canones. Antecedens patet ex can. Si Papa dist. 40. Ex Concilio V sub Symmacho, ex Concilioi VIII. Generali act. 7. Ex Anacleto epist. 3.Eusebio epist. 2. Ex Innocentio III. In serm. 2. De consecrate. Pontif. »

[41] «Respondeo ad primum argumentum: inde recte colligi, posse Papam ex natura sua incidere in haeresim, non tamen posita singulari Dei assistentia, quam Christus oration sua illi impetravit: oravit autem Christus, ne dificeret Fides ejus, non autem ne incideret in alia vitia. » (De Romano Pontifice, Lib. IV, Cap. VII)

[42] «Canones autem citati loquuntur expresse de haeresi; igitur non loquuntur de errore judiciali, sed personali Pontificis. Secundo dico; canones illos non velle dicere, Pontificem etiam ut privatam personam posse errare, sed tantum non posse Pontificem judicari: quia tamen non est omnino certum, an possit necne esse haereticus Pontifex; ideo ad majorem cautelam, addunt conditionem, nisi fiat haereticus. »

[43] «semetipsum palam declarat haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recessisse, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Eccleaiae nulla cujusquam declaratio aut sententia necessaria sit»

[44] True or False Pope, p. 220

[45] «Nevertheless,  even  conceding  the possibility  that  a Pope  could fall  into formal  heresy  (which I do,  based on  the  teaching of  Pope  Innocent  III  and several  historical  examples)» [John Salza Replies to Another Sedevacantist] (emphasis qadded)

[46] «La terza opinione è stata presa in esame da un solo teologo francese del XIX secolo (D. Bouix, Tractatus de Papa, Parigi/Lione, Lecoffre, 1869) su oltre 137 autori; essa ritiene che il Papa se per ipotesi cade in eresia mantiene egualmente il Pontificato, ma i fedeli non devono restare passivi, manifestando al Papa il suo errore affinché si corregga (cfr.  A. X. Da Silveira, Qual è l’autorità dottrinale dei documenti pontifici e conciliari?, “Cristianità”, n. 9, 1975; Id., È lecita la resistenza a decisioni dell’Autorità ecclesiastica?, “Cristianità”, n. 10, 1975; Id., Può esservi l’errore nei documenti del Magistero ecclesiastico?, “Cristianità”, n. 13, 1975) senza tuttavia poterlo dichiarare deposto (“depositus”) o deponendo (“deponendus”); questa terza opinione non è condivisa da tutti i teologi “probati”. »

[47]« In realtà il Bellarmino tratta della pura ipotesi dell’eresia del Papa,  “ammessa e non concessa” la quale, ritiene - solo speculativamente, indagativamente e ipoteticamente - che il Papa sarebbe deposto ipso facto (“depositus”) e non  da deporsi (“deponendus”) dopo dichiarazione dell’Episcopato o del S. Collegio cardinalizio»

[48] Innocent III, Sermo II, De Diversis.

[49] http://www.unavox.it/ArtDiversi/DIV1628_Nitoglia_Questione_Papa_eretico.htm

[50] Monsignor Vittorio Mondello (La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, cit., pp. 163-194) spiega che l’ipotesi della possibilità del Papa eretico deriva dal Decreto di Graziano (dist. XL, cap. 6, col.   146) composto tra il 1140 e il 1150, in cui si trova riportato un frammento creduto erroneamente di S. Bonifacio († 5 giugno 754), un monaco benedettino dell’Exeter in Inghilterra inviato da papa Gregorio II ad evangelizzare la Germania, consacrato arcivescovo di Magonza e martirizzato dai Frisoni, che è considerato l’apostolo della Germania e il cui corpo riposa a Fulda.

[51] «Questo frammento si intitola “Si Papa” ed esprime la dottrina secondo cui “a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius / non può essere giudicato da nessuna autorità umana, tranne che sia caduto in eresia”. »

[52] «A partire da questo decreto spurio attribuito erroneamente a San Bonifacio e ripreso come tale da Graziano i teologi medievali e controriformistici hanno ritenuto possibile la ipotesi e non la certezza del Papa eretico. Da qui si sono divisi nel discettare come risolvere la questione di un Papa eventualmente caduto in eresia come persona privata (cfr. A. M. Vellico, De Ecclesia Christi, Roma, 1940, p. 395, n. 557, nella nota 560 vi è un’amplia bibliografia). Il cardinal Charles Journet  (L’Eglise du Verbe Incarné, Bruges, Desclée, II ed., 1995, vol. I, p. 626) ritiene che la sentenza secondo cui il Papa non può cadere in eresia “va oggi divulgandosi grazie soprattutto al progresso degli studi storici. Il Bellarmino (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30) è stato uno dei sostenitori di questa tesi. La sentenza che ammette la possibilità dell’eresia del Papa trae la sua lontana origine dal già citato Decreto di Graziano, che riporta un testo spurio attribuito a San Bonifacio” (citato in V. Mondello, op. cit., p. 164). »

[53] «Ora la eventuale condanna del Papa solo in caso di eresia da parte del Concilio imperfetto (i soli Vescovi) è la tesi del conciliarismo mitigato, condannato come ereticale e figlio del conciliarismo radicale, che ritiene il Concilio superiore al Papa sempre e per sé ed è stato anch’esso condannato come ereticale. Mons. Antonio Piolanti scrive: “il Conciliarismo è un errore ecclesiologico, secondo cui il Concilio ecumenico è superiore al Papa. L’origine remota del Conciliarismo si trova nel principio giuridico del Decreto di Graziano (dist. XL, cap. 6) secondo il quale il Papa può essere giudicato dalla Chiesa (l’Episcopato o i Cardinali) in caso di eresia. […]. Il Papa può errare e persino cadere in eresia, dovrà in tal caso essere corretto ed anche deposto. […] quest’errore fu condannato dal Concilio di Trento e ricevette il colpo di grazia dal Concilio Vaticano I” (Dizionario di teologia dommatica, Roma, Studium, IV ed., 1957, pp. 82-84, voce Conciliarismo). »

[54] «Tametsi enim Liberius hæreticus non erat, tamen habebatur, propter pacem cum Arianis factam, hæreticus, […] Non enim homines tenentur, aut corda possunt scrutari; sed quem externis operibus hæreticum esse vident, simpliciter hæreticum iudicant, ac ut hæreticum damnant. » (Lib. IV, Cap. IX)

[55] Canon 194 § 2. Amotio, de qua in nn. 2 et 3, urgeri tantum potest, si de eadem auctoritatis competentis declaratione constet.

[56] «Del resto, se Dio permettesse che un papa fosse notoriamente eretico e contumace, egli cesserebbe d'essere papa, e vacherebbe il pontificato. » Verita della Fede, part 3, ch. 8, no. 10. In: Opere dommatiche di S. Alfonso de Liguori (Torino, G. Marietti, 1848), p. 720. (Opere di S. Alfonso Maria de Liguori, v. 8)

[57]«Lo stesso (i.e. “si tiene vacante la Sede Apostolica”) sarebbe nel caso, che il Papa cadesse notoriamente e pertinacemente in qualche eresia. Benchè allora […] non sarebbe il Papa privato dal Pontificato dal Concilio … ma ne sarebbe spogliato immediatamente da Cristo, divenendo allora Soggetto affato inabile, e caduto dal suo Officio. »

[58] «Secondo il Bellarmino (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30, p. 420), siccome gli eretici manifesti, notori e pubblici  perdono ipso facto la giurisdizione, ammesso e non concesso che il Papa possa cadere in eresia, in caso di eventuale eresia manifesta egli perderebbe immediatamente l’autorità papale.  Questa è l’interpretazione della posizione bellarminiana data dai padri gesuiti Franz Xavier Wernz e Pedro Vidal (Jus Canonicum, Roma, Gregoriana, 1943, vol. II, p. 517). »

[59] Don Curzio explains that the opinion of Ballerini follows that of Bellarmine, as I have already explained earlier, that the heretic pope would declare himself a heretic and fall from office by himself: «In breve ciò che don Pietro Ballerini  mantiene come certissimo è che il Papa nel definire non errerà mai; infine come ipotesi investigativa “ammesso e non concesso” che il Papa cada in errore contrario alla fede, dovrebbe essere ammonito e corretto e dopo due ammonizioni, se si ostina nell’errore, si dichiara da se stesso eretico e decaduto dal Pontificato, ma tutto ciò deve essere opera non di giurisdizione bensì di carità (De Potestate ecclesiastica Summorum Pontificum et Conciliorum generalium, Verona, 1765, cap. 9, nn. 3-8; cap. 15, n. 21; cfr. T. Facchini, Il Papato principio di unità e Pietro Ballerini di Verona, Padova, Il Messaggero di S Antonio, 1950, pp. 126-128). Anche dallo studio testé citato di padre Tarcisio Facchini si capisce bene che l’ipotesi di don Pietro Ballerini segue l’opinione del Bellarmino» The warnings given are of the nature of fraternal correction, and are not canonical warnings (which are impossible, because they are properly the act of a superior), as Salza & Siscoe mendaciously claim. As I have demonstrated above from Ballerini’s exposition on Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII), since the warnings are not canonical, if the heretic pope manifests his pertinacity sponte sua without warnings, he would fall from office even without being warned. Both Bellarmine and Ballerini speak of the necessity of the warnings not in terms of a canonical procedure, but only for the practical necessity of establishing pertinacity; and at which point the heretic would fall entirely by himself ipso facto without being judged by the Church, and before any merely declaratory sentence confirming the fact could be made.

[60] «La quarta opinione è stata studiata soprattutto dal cardinal Tommaso de Vio detto il Gaetano, da Giovanni di San Tommaso (De auctoritate Summi Pontificis, Québec, Università di Laval, 1947)  e anche da Francisco Suarez (che esamina la prima e la quarta, ma ritiene più probabile la prima della quarta); secondo la quarta opinione occorre che vi sia una dichiarazione dell’eresia del Papa da parte dell’Episcopato o del Collegio cardinalizio»

[61] This matter will be dealt with in its proper place.

[62] Pastor Aeternus

[63] “ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus”

[64] Ineffabilis Deus: Quapropter si qui secus ac a Nobis definitum est, quod Deus avertat, prassumpserint corde sentire, ii noverint, ac porro sciant, se proprio judicio condemnatos, naufragium circa fidem passos esse, et ab unitate Ecclesiæ defecisse, ac præterea facto ipso suo semet pœnis a jure statutis subjicere si quod corde sentiunt, verbo aut scripto, vel alio quovis externo modo significare ausi fuerint.
“Wherefore if any persons should have the presumption, which God forbid, of thinking in their hearts contrary to what has been in this respect defined by us, let them be made aware, and let them further know, that they are by their own decision condemned; that they have suffered shipwreck of the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the Church, and that moreover, by their own act itself, they subject themselves to the penalties imposed by the law, if they should either by word written or oral, or by any other external sign, attempt to give outward expression to the erroneous views they form in their hearts.”

[65]  «Ond’è che poteasi, come osserva il Ballerini, considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. » (Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47)

[66] (which also happens to be a canonical delict)

[67] It appears more likely that they have studiously avoided the distinction; since, they quoted a passage of Cardinal Journet on page 277 of their screed tht makes the distinction: “Some, such as Bellarmine and Suarez, considered that such a Pope, withdrawing himself from the Church, was ipso facto deposed, papa haereticus est depositus. (…) Others, such as Cajetan, and Johnof St. Thomas, whose analysis seems to me more penetrating, have considered that even after a manifest sin 114 of heresy the Pope is not yet deposed, but should be deposed by the Church, papa haereticus non est depositus, sed deponendus.” However, the authors pass over it in silence as a matter of little or no importance

[68] «papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam et caput, sicut per se desinit esse christianus et membrum corporis Ecclesiae; quare ab, Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri »

[69] «hac sua publica pertinacia, cum ab haeresi proprie dicta, quae pertinaciam requirit, excusari nulla ratione potest; tum vero semetipsum palam declarat haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recessisse, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Eccleaiae nulla cujusquam declaratio aut sententia necessaria sit»

[70] «primatu et pontificatu exauctoratus»

[71] “Del resto, si Dio permettesse che un papa fosse notoriamente eretico e contumace, egli cesserebbe d'essere papa, e vacherebbe il pontificato.” (Verita della Fede, part 3, ch. 8, no. 10. In:Opere dommatiche di S. Alfonso de Liguori, Torino, G. Marietti, 1848, p. 720; Opere di S. Alfonso Maria de Liguori, v. 8)

[72] «considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. »

[73] «Benedictus XIII. , (si verum Pontificem fuisse existimes) ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus, rite ac legitime deponi potuit a Concilio tamquam schismaticus & haereticus; quod non congrueret Joanni XXIII, in sententia contra hunc edita declaratum non legitur. »

[74] «Vides interim, quibus modis divina providentia usa est ad abolendum per Constantiensem synudum pertinacissimam schisma, ut ne opus esset eamdem synodum quiquam juris exercere ad deponendum sua auctoritate quempiam verum, licet ignotum, actualem Pontificem. »

[75] «Ond’è che poteasi, come osserva il Ballerini, considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. » (Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47).

[76] This point will be fully elaborated in its proper place, on Salza’& Siscoe’s treatment of the Five Opinions.


[78] This doctrine expressed in these terms, apostolica sedes a nemine iudicatur, dates back to the 4th Century pontificate of Pope St. Damasus.

[79] “Yet heretics are outside the Church, even before excommunication, and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment, as the Apostle teaches to Titus; that is, they are cut from the body of the Church without excommunication, as Jerome expresses it.”

[80] This point is simply lost on Salza and Siscoe, who in all their writings insist that Suarez was of Opinion No. 5 (!), and that Suarez and Bellarmine were of the same opinion on this point! By means of this sophistry they then claim that all the great theologians were of the opinion that the loss of office does not take place until it has been officially judged to be so by the Church, and that this opinion has always been the common opinion of theologians!

[81] Canonical admonitions are not always necessary: “Neither is it always demanded in the external forum that there be a warning and a reprimand as described above for somebody to be punished as heretical and pertinacious, and such a requirement is by no means always admitted in practice by the Holy Office” (De Lugo, disp. XX, sect. IV, n. l57-158. De Lugo elaborates further in his continuation of the passage: “For if it could be established in some other way, given that the doctrine is well known, given the kind of person involved and given the other circumstances, that the accused could not have been unaware that his thesis was opposed to the Church, he would be considered as a heretic from this fact […] The reason for this is clear because the exterior warning can serve only to ensure that someone who has erred understands the opposition which exists between his error and the teaching of the Church. If he knew the subject through books and conciliar definitions much better than he could know it by the declarations of someone admonishing him then there would be no reason to insist on a further warning for him to become pertinacious against the Church.”

[82] “Now such harassment she, the Church received from Benedict, who obstinately with the fact attacked the article unam, sancatm? He fulminated these most terrible anathemas against the Council, and against adherents to other Pontiffs, and made the more precipitous attacks in order to keep himself on the illegitimately occupied throne; claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ to have perished in all other parts of the world, and that it was restricted only in Paniscola, as he said to the legates of the Council: ‘That is not a Church, but in Paniscola, I say, is the true Church,. . This is Noah's Ark’. So then be could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from papacy, even if he had been validly elevated to it.” (Gregorio XVI: Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47)

[83] Can. 192 — Ab officio quis amovetur sive decreto ab auctoritate competenti legitime edito, servatis quidem iuribus forte ex contractu quaesitis, sive ipso iure ad normam can. 194
Can. 194 — § 1. Ipso iure ab ecclesiastico amovetur: 2° qui a fide catholica aut a communione Ecclesiae publice defecerit;

[84] Can. 196 — § 1. Privatio ab officio, in poenam scilicet delicti, ad normam iuris tantummodo fieri potest.§ 2. Privatio effectum sortitur secundum praescripta canonum de iure poenali.

[85] “The sin of heresy alone, which has not been judged and declared by the Church, does not result in the loss of ecclesiastical office for a cleric. The loss of office for a cleric is a vindictive penalty, and there is a process in Church law which must precede vindictive penalties” (TOFP p. 260)

[86] Salza and Siscoe deceptively interpret Section 2 of Canon 194 (§ 2. Amotio, de qua in nn. 2 et 3, urgeri tantum potest, si de eadem auctoritatis competentis declaratione constet.), to make it appear that the loss of office does not take place until it has been declared by the competent ecclesiastical authority. The canon states explicitly (§ 1) that the loss of office takes place by the operation of the law itself (ipso jure), and therefore automatically; and § 2 states that the loss of office, which as a fact took place ipso jure, “can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.” Thus, § 2 only specifies that the post factum enforcement of the loss of office (that has already taken place ipso jure) can only be carried out after having been confirmed by declaration of Church authority.

[87] “For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.”

[88] Suarez, Francisco, S.J.  De Fide: Disputatio XXI, Sectio 3.1621

[89] “The first opinion teaches, as often as it is evident that someone is a heretic, the very fact makes communication with him forbidden.  Thus, Soto  4. Dist.25. Quast.1 art.1 & 3. & dist. 20. Quast.1. art.5. conclus. 2.  The common opinion, however, denies this, in as much as they are not legally declared a heretic, & denounced; because the Council of Constance granted all the faithful in general, as to permit communication with all the excommunicated, except those denounced by name, & those notorious for striking a cleric, with no given exception of heretics:  therefore, there is no reason by which that permission does not extend to communicate with them [heretics].  Thus teach Toetus, Ugolinus, Suarez, Azor, & others, whom I have reported, & followed by Thomas Sanchez lib.2. in Decal.cap.9.n.3  Hurtado in prasenti, disp.76&4.  & others in common, which I’ve always embraced in other places.” (Tractatus de Virtute Fidei Divinae: Disputatio XXII, Sectio.1. 1646)

[90]  “So as these heretics are not declared excommunicates or notoriously guilty of striking a cleric, there is no reason why we should be prevented from receiving the sacraments from them because of their excommunication, although on other grounds this may often be illicit unless necessity excuse as I have explained in the said places.” (Tractatus de Virtute Fidei Divinae: Disputatio XXII, Sectio.1. 1646)

[91] It was the sententia communior in Billuart’s day, but is no longer.

[92] Can. 17 — Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum.

[93] This point will be amply demonstrated in its proper place.

[94] « (n 1) Quamvis Patrum traditio Apostolicae Sedi auctoritatem tantam tnbuerit, ut de eius iudicio disceptare nullus auderet, idque per canones semper regulasque servaverit et currens adhuc suis legibus ecclesiastica disciplina Petri nomini, a quo ipsa quoque descendit, reverentiam quam debet exsolvat: ...
« (3) cum ergo tantae auctoritatis et Petrus caput sit et sequentia omnium maiorum statuta firmaverint, ut iam humanis divinisque legibus disciplinisque omnibus finiretur Romanam Ecclesiam, cuius locum regeret (al.: firmetur Romana Ecclesia, cuius locum Nos regere), ipsius quoque potestatem nominis obtinere...:
« (4) tamen, cum Nobis tantum esset auctoritatis, ut nullus de Nostra possit retractare sententia, nihil egimus, quod non ad vestram notitiam Nostris ultro litteris referremus, dantes hoc fraternitati et in commune consulentes, non quia quid deberet fieri nesciremus aut faceremus aliquid, quod contra utilitatem Ecclesiae veniens displiceret, sed pariter vobiscum voluimus habere tractatum de illo (Caelestio accusato). [St. Zozimun 21 March 418 “Quamvis Patrum”]

[95] «Apostolicae Sedis primatus, quem non homo, sed Deus, immo verius Deus homo constituit, multis quidem et evangelicis et apostolicis testimoniis comprobatur, a quibus postmodum constitutiones canonicae processerunt, concorditer asserentes sacrosanctam Ecclesiam in beato Petro Apostolorum principe consecratam quasi magistram et matrem ceteris praeeminere. Hic enim ... audire promeruit: 'Tu es Petrus ... tibi dabo claves regni caelorum' (Mt 16, 18 s). Nam licet primum et praecipuum Ecclesiae fundamentum sit unigenitus Dei Filius Jesus Christus, iuxta quod dicit Apostolus 'Quia fundamentum positum est, praeter quod aliud poni non potest, quod est Christus Jesus' (l Cor 3, 11), secundum tamen et secundarium Ecclesiae fundamentum est Petrus, etsi non tempore primus, auctoritate tamen praecipuus inter ceteros, de quibus Paulus Apostolus inquit: 'Iam non estis hospites et advenae, sed estis cives sanctorum et domestici Dei, superaedificati supra fundamentum Apostolorum et Prophetarum' (Eph 2, 20). ... Huius etiam primatum Veritas per se ipsam expressit, cum inquit ad eum: 'Tu vocaberis Cephas' (Io 1, 42): quod etsi 'Petrus' interpretetur, 'caput' tamen exponitur, ut sicut caput inter cetera membra corporis, velut in quo viget plenitudo sensuum, obtinet principatum, sic et Petrus inter Apostolos et successores ipsius inter universos Ecclesiarum praelatos praerogativa praecellerent dignitatis, vocatis sic ceteris in partem sollicitudinis, ut nihil eis de potestatis plenitudine deperiret. Huic Dominus oves suas pascendas vocabulo tertio repetito commisit, ut alienus a grege dominico censeatur, qui eum etiam in successoribus suis noluerit habere pastorem. Non enim inter has et illas oves distinxit, sed simpliciter inquit: 'Pasce oves meas' (Jo 21, 17), ut omnes omnino intelligantur ei esse commissae. ... (Explicando allegorice Jo 21, 7:) Cum enim mare mundum designet (juxta Ps 103, 25), per hoc, quod Petrus se misit in mare, privilegium expressit pontificii singularis, per quod universum orbem susceperat gubernandum, ceteris Apostolis ut vehiculo navis contentis, cum nulli eorum universus fuerit orbis commissus, sed singulis singulae provinciae vel Ecclesiae potius deputatae. (Simile argumentum allegoricum deducitur ex Mt 14, 28 ss:) Per hoc quod Petrus super aquas maris incessit, super universos populos se potestatem accepisse monstravit. [Innocent III, Ep. 'Apostolicae Sedis primatus' ad (Iohannem)  patriarcham  C'polit., 12 novembre 1199]

[96]  (Ordo sedium patriarch.; primatus Rom.)
«Item diffinimus, sanctam Apostolicam Sedem, et Romanum Pontificem, in universum orbem tenere primatum, et ipsum Pontificem Romanum successorem esse beati Petri principis Apostolorum et verum Christi vicarium, totiusque Ecclesiae caput et omnium Christianorum patrem ac doctorem exsistere; et ipsi in beato Petro pascendi, regendi ac gubernandi universalem Ecclesiam a Domino nostro Jesu Christo plenam potestatem traditam esse; quemadmodum etiam in gestis oecumenicorum Conciliorum et in sacris canonibus continetur. (“Laetentur Caeli“ 6 July 1439)

[97] «Freilich ist eine derartige Verurtheilung wegen Ketzerei schon früh vorgekommen, indem die sechste allgemeine , von Leo II. Bestätigte Synode von Konstantinopel (680) den Papst Honorius I. (625 — 638) nach seinem Tode wegen Ketzerei anathematisirte. Später haben mehrere  Päpste die Statthaftigkeit eines Urtheils über den Papst in dem gedachten Fall anerkannt , und demnach kann an der Geltung jenes Satzes nicht gezweifelt werden.

[98] «Eine Reihe katholischer Schriftsteller  wollen aber darin keine Ausnahme von der gedachten Regel finden, weil der in Ketzerei verfallene Papst sich dadurch selbst von der Kirche ausscheide , damit weiter den Pontifikat verwirke und also das Konzil keine Deposition mehr verhängen könne, sondern nur die Thatsache des erfolgten Verlustes der Päpstlichen Würde zu konstatiren habe. [3] (Dieser Gedanke tritt schon bei Innocenz III. auf (im Sermo IV. In consecrat. pontiff. opp. Colon. 1575. 1. 197): «Potest (pontifex) ab hominibus iudicari vel potius iudicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescat in haeresim, quoniam qui non credit, iam iudicatus est» ) Vgl. ferner Bellarmin, christ. Fidei controv. gen. III. De Romano pontifice II. 30. (ed. Ingolstadt. 1605. 1083): «Est ergo opinio quinta vera, papa haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse christianus et membrum corporis ecclesiae, quare ab ecclesia posse eum iudicari et puniri. Haec est sententia omnium veterum patrum qui docent haereticos manifestos mox amittere omnem jurisdictionem»; Fagnan. comm. Ad c. 4. X. de elect. I. 6. n. 70 ff; Fragosi, regimen reipubl. Christianae lib. II. c. I. §. 2. n. 21 (Lugduni. 1648. 2, 11); Kober, Deposition. S. 585.

[99] Wikipedia provides the reference: “4.  ^ See the text from Huguccio's Summa printed in Appendix 1 of Brian Tierney, Foundations of the Conciliar Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955).”

[100] “Aber mit dieser Theorie steht die unleugbare Thatsache in Widerspruch, dass mehrfach im Verlauf der früheren Jahrhunderterte Absetzungen von Päpsten erfolgt sint, und es fragt sich daher, ob diese Depositionen bloss verwerfliche Verletztungen eines von Anfang an in der katolischen Kirche unbestritten feststehenden  Rechtssatzes waren oder ob sich nicht vielmehr dieser letztere erst im Laufe der Entwicklung fixiert hat.” (Op. cit., p. 297)

[101] “Eine unbefangene, voraussetzungslose Betrachtung der einzelnen, in Frage kommenden Begebnisse wird die letztgedachte Auffassung als berechtigt erscheinen lassen. In der Römischen Kaiserzeit und den grössten Theil des Mittelalters hindurch, in welchem  der Gegensatz zwischen dem Pontifikat und  Episkopat noch nicht der hauptsächliche treibende Faktor der Entwicklung gewesen ist, vielmehr die Bischöfe sich höchstens und nur zum Theil der weltlichen Macht angeschlossen haben, begegnen uns daher nur Fälle, wo die weltlichen Herscher allerdings unter Hinzutritt von Kirchensammlungen dergleichen Absetzungen vornahmen, während gerade gegen Ende des Mittelalters, als der durch die frühere Verfassungsgestaltungen zurückgedrängt Episkopat sein Haupt erhoben und die päpstlichen Rechte zu vermindern suchte, dieser beanspruchte Oberhoheit über die Päpste auch durch Depositionen der letzteren praktisch zur Geltung brachte.”

[102] Ora «Graziano, per fondare il principio sulla ingiudicabilità del Papa,  a differenza della tradizione canonistica precedente […] ha lasciato inconcusso il principio Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur. Tuttavia, ha trascritto parzialmente il Fragmentum A (174-178) di Umberto di Silva Candida. Egli raccoglie così nel suo Decreto le due tradizioni giuridiche contrastanti, che sono state compresenti nella Chiesa: la prima, sostenuta dagli apocrifi simmachiani  [papa san Simmaco (498-514) sottoposto al giudizio del concilio particolare detto palmare nell’atrio della basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano dall’imperatore Teodorico nel 501. Nel corso della controversia furono stilati numerosi scritti polemici, fra cui gli apocrifi simmachiani, redatti dai sostenitori di papa Simmaco, che emanò l’assioma Summa Sedes a nemine iudicatur ndr], afferma che il Papa non può essere giudicato da nessuno; la seconda ritiene che, in caso di eresia, il Papa può essere ripreso. Dunque questa concezione si è tramandata sino al secolo XII. […].» (S. Vacca, Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur, cit., p. 253-254).

[103] Wikipedia – (In: Kenneth Pennington, Popes, Canonists and Texts, 1150-1550.)

[104] “Gli storici moderni hanno individuato due campi nei quali E. ha contribuito in modo rilevante al pensiero giuridico: si tratta delle dottrine sull'autorità papale e su quella episcopale. Fu il primo ad applicare il termine "potestas absoluta" al papa. Pur nell'esaltazione del potere papale si avvalse della teoria collegiale per sostenere il diritto dei vescovi e dei cardinali a partecipare al governo della Chiesa. La sua dottrina è un complesso tessuto di pensiero autoritario e di pensiero costituzionale in cui entrambe le tendenze raggiungono un equilibrio.” – ENRICO da Susa, detto l'Ostiense [Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 42 (1993) di Kenneth Pennington]

[105] «c. 16 (Gelasius I. a. 493) C. IX. qu. 3 : “Ipsi sunt canones qui appellationes totius ecclesiae ad huius sedis examen voluere deferri. Ab ipsa vero nusquam prorsus appellari debere sanxerunt ac per hoc illam de tota ecclesia iudicare,  ipsam ad nullius commeare iudicium nec de eius unquam praeceperunt iudicio iudicari”; c. 17 (idem a. 498) ead. : “Cuncta per mundum novit ecclesia, quod sacrosancta Romana ecclesia fas de omnibus habet iudicandi neque cuiquam de eius liceat iudicare iudicio. » (Hinschius, Op. cit. p. 297)
[106] A. Michel, Dictionnarire de théologie catholique, VI, ii



[i] Christopher Conlon quotes multiple authorities in his excellent article, On the Admonitions of Titus 3:10: An analysis of Catholic history, laws, and teachings which illustrate the true nature of the "admonitions" referenced in Titus 3:10:“A man that is a heretic after, the first and second admonition avoid” (pp. 4 -7)

«These admonitions or correptions must be given to such as err, by our spiritual governors and pastors, to whom if they yield not, Christian men must avoid them. (Rheims New Testament, p.549).

According to the original annotations of the Rheims NT, in St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus, “he instructeth him, and in him all Bishops” (p.545), affirming that the purpose of the Epistle to Titus is to instruct the Church hierarchy. Then, in the specific annotation for Titus 3:10, it is explained that the admonitions mentioned therein are given by our “spiritual governors and pastors”. If, after these admonitions, the heretic does not yield to our spiritual governors and pastors, then the faithful must avoid the heretic. Though a layman might attempt to admonish or instruct a heretic in some way, the Rheims New Testament annotation shows that the admonitions that could effectively result in having to avoid, or shun, a heretic are those that come from the authorities in the Church. The layman’s admonition is obviously not the same as the admonitions of Church officials mentioned in Titus 3:10. Those admonitions of a layman, therefore, have no bearing on the instruction of Titus 3:10and who ought to be avoided. Though there may be other reasons to avoid a heretic, the instruction of Titus 3:10 does not oblige the faithful to avoid anyone if only a laymen has admonished them, since the passage is referring to authoritative, or official, admonitions. These official admonitions in Titus 3:10 are, in other words, canonical admonitions.

Canonical Admonitions

The only article of the Catholic Encyclopedia with the word “admonition” in the title, the 1907 article, Canonical Admonitions, defines these as, "A preliminary means used by the Church towards a suspected person, as a preventive of harm or a remedy of evil" (Burtsell). According to this article, an Instruction directed by Pope Leo XIII states that, "Among the preservative measures are chiefly to be reckoned the spiritual retreat, admonitions, and injunc-tions." This Instruction also says, "the canonical admonitions may be made in a paternal and private manner (even by letter or by an intermediary person), or in legal form, but always in such a way that proof of their having been made shall remain on record." It is then explained that these admonitions are founded, “after an investigation to be made by one having due authority, with the result of establishing a reasonable basis for the suspicion.” The first admonition is a paternal admonition, by which “the prelate either personally or through a confidential delegate informs the suspected person of what has been said about him, without mentioning the source of information, and without threat, but urges amendment.” If the paternal admonition, and other measures, are ineffective; then a legal admonition is resorted to, and this is, “to a great extent akin to the summons to judgment.”

Canon 2143 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law prescribes the way in which admonitions are to be administered.

Admonitions, if necessary, may be made orally or in writing. If they are administered orally, this must be done by the Ordinary in the presence of the chancellor, or some other of-ficial of the diocesan court, or two witnesses. If by letter, the latter should be registered and receipted by the post office…
(Augustine, p.405. 1921)                                        

That the admonitions mentioned in Titus 3:10 are canonical admonitions is obvious from the fact that, as was previously shown, St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus, including the instruction in verse 3:10, was addressed to him in his capacity as a Church official. The 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article on heresy also explains that this instruction to Titus was an early piece of legislation in regards to the way the Church dealt with and excommunicated heretics.The spirit which animates the dealings of the Church with heresy and heretics is one of extreme severity. St. Paul writes to Titus: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he, that is such a one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment" (Titus 3:10-11). This early piece of legislation reproduces the still earlier teaching of Christ: ‘And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican’ (Matthew 18:17); it also inspires all subsequent anti-heretical legislation. The sentence on the obstinate heretic is invariably excommunication. He is separated from the company of the faithful, delivered up ‘to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 5:5). (Wilhelm)

Affirming what the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article said above and further showing that the admonitions in Titus 3:10 are what would be called canonical admonitions, the 1932 book,The Delict of Heresy, by Rev. MacKenzie, states that St. Paul’s order to Titus in this verse indicates part of a “more or less formal process of trial.”

Paul’s orders to Titus have already been quoted, requiring that there be a first and second warning, and then avoidance of the heretic. He also wrote to Timothy decreeing that there must be two witnesses before certain punishments be inflicted, and this text has been thought to indicate a more or less formal process of trial even in these earliest days of ecclesiastical organization. (MacKenzie, p.4. 1932).

The following quotes also illustrate that the Church officials are those that determine, by their admonitions, who is to be avoided.

“A fortiori, therefore, must the faithful have been obliged to shun the company of those whom the Apostles found necessary to separate from the communion of the faithful.”
(Excommunication. Francis Hyland, J.C.L., p.36. 1928)

“Those who voluntarily separate themselves from the Church are (a) heretics, i.e., those who profess a doctrine declared as heretical by the Church, and infidels, who entirely reject the Church’s teaching. Fore whosoever publicly departs form the unity of the faith thereby ceases both inwardly and outwardly to belong to the Church. Therefore St. Paul admonishes the pastors of the Church: “A man that is a heretic after the first or second admonition, avoid” (Tit. iii. 10). If such a man still belonged to the fold the Apostle would not admonish the pastors to shun him." (Handbook of the Christian Religion. Wilmers, Wilhelm,S.J., p.381. 1891).

“The heretic, St. Paul instructs Titus, shall be admonished a first and a second time of the grave character of his offense; if he will not heed, he must be avoided by Christians as a man in evident bad faith, who stands self-condemned… a heretic was a person who deliberately taught a doctrine he knew to be false, in contradiction of the infallible teaching of the Church. Heretics were consequently cut off from all association with the faithful, who must hold no relations with them so long as they obstinately refuse to heed the official remonstrances of the Church authorities.”(The American Catholic Quarterly Review, vol.24. “Church and State in the Fourth Century.” Rev. Maurice M. Hassett, pp.301-302. 1909)

“The external enforcement of laws against heretics as heretics, always involves some judicial process. This process may have various stages, marked by the judicial sentences imposed: a declaratory sentence that excommunication has been incurred by a delict of heresy; a sentence of juridical infamy; deprivation of offices, benefices, etc.; deposition and degradation. The issuance of any of these sentences (save the declaratory sentence), requires canonical warnings and trials, with full observance of the criminal code in all details of the process.” (The Delict of Heresy. Rev. Eric MacKenzie, A.M., S.T.L., J.C.L., p.98. 1932).

“And in matters spiritual, a bishop, by virtue of his office, is an inquisitor of the same kind. It is his duty, laid down in the plainest language of Holy Writ, to watch over those who are entrusted to his charge; and where he sees any going astray, to "reprove," to "rebuke sharply," and "with all authority," and if necessary, "after the first and second admonition to reject," that is, to cut off from the society of the church, or in other words, to excommunicate (2 Tim. iv, 2. Titus i, 13. ii, 15. iii, 10). This, I say, is contained in the very idea of a bishop, or overseer "of God's flock. He is bound to maintain the integrity of the faith, and to keep his people from being corrupted by teachers of false doctrines; and he has authority given him for this special purpose.” (The Catholic Missionary, “The Inquisition.” Andrew Kim (first Korean-born Catholic priest), Martyred, p.5. 1853).

“Moreover, so far from wishing to tolerate such persons in the Church, St. Paul warns the faithful to avoid them (Romans 16:17), calls upon those who are set over Churches to cast out the recalcitrant heretic, as one who is "subverted and self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11), and, in a particular instance, tells St. Timothy that he has "delivered" two such heretics "to Satan" — that is, cast them out of the Church — "that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20).” (The Catholic Encyclopedia. “Union of Christendom”. Sydney Smith, S.J. 1912).

“Moreover, we determine to subject to excommunication believers who receive, defend or support heretics… If however, he is a cleric, let him be deposed from every office and benefice, so that the greater the fault the greater the punishment. If any refuse to avoid such persons after they have been pointed out by the Church [postquam ab ecclesia denotati fuerint], let them be punished with the sentence of excommunication until they make suitable satisfaction. Clerics should not, of course, give the sacraments of the Church to such pestilent persons nor give them a Christian burial…” (Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 3, On Heretics. Pope Innocent III. 1215).

The admonitions that Titus is instructed to give are clearly official admonitions, or those that come from a Church authority; and they relate to the Church’s official process of excommunicating and separating heretics from the faithful. This fact is also drawn from the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. » (The author then presents the exposition of St. Thomas).



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