Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Has Muscles! & My Brain Hurts

I surprised myself just now. I was sitting here typing and bumped my own upper arm, and guess what?

It was hard! Without me doing the body builder flex! Woot!

And now on to the brain hurty portion of the post:

A Heretic Pope Would Govern Illicitly—but Validly

To sum up then:

1. The traditional and continuing law of the Church, expressed repeatedly in papal constitutions ever since the Middle Ages, allows for a heretical or apostate cardinal to participate fully in a papal conclave and even to be elected pope. If he could validly attain the papacy as a heretic or apostate, he could certainly retain it validly, even while remaining in that unhappy spiritual state.

2. A pope who began his pontificate as an orthodox Catholic but became a formal heretic or apostate during his pontificate would thereby legally incur excommunication. However, even if his heresy or apostasy should become publicly discernible, the absence of any competent authority on earth who could lawfully declare his excommunication would mean that, if he refused to resign and continued to insist on carrying out acts of papal authority, those acts, though illicitly exercised, would still be valid. In other words, he would still be juridically the true pope whom we would have to recognize and obey in all things but sin, even though at the inner level at which grace operates he might well be totally separated from the mystical body of Christ.

The whole article is here: White Smoke, Valid Pope

So, coupled with this:

"This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.” ~ Dogmatic Constitution on the Church #25 (Vat. II Document)

My. Brain. Hurts.

We are supposed to obey the pope's pronouncements, even when he's *not* speaking ex cathedra (infallibly), however, if a pope should go off the rails and become a heretic, if he won't step down, there's no one who can remove him, since a pope is a pope for life. (I mean, it's happened, historically, that pope's have been forced out, (not for heresy, but political reasons) but that involved armies and such, and that's not likely to happen anymore.) I mean, I get that, should a pope become a heretic, and it become clear (but what about if it doesn't become clear? Since doctrine is an evolving creature in Catholicism, if it's not an *obvious* heresy, who's to say?) that we are not to follow him into sin, but why is he still pope? We still have to obey him, but he's a heretic. How does that make sense? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Shouldn't there be a...oh, let's call them a council. A council of Bishops who should be able to censure one another, especially when one of them goes off the rails? Because that's all the pope is, really, is a Bishop. He's the Bishop of Rome.


  1. Be Orthodox. Problem solved. Now, it might take time to boot the heretics, and we have had heretical bishops from time to time, apostate bishops from time to time, etc..., but ultimate authority rests with the Church as a whole (all the bishops, in council) and not with one Bishop. And doctrine does NOT evolve.

  2. I think one person having so much (all?) the power is very very dangerous. Power - for some odd reason - tends to corrupt. Not saying all popes are corrupt as the majority are likely wonderful, godly men. But what happens if such a scenario as this comes about and you still have to obey someone heretical because he is the top man? I think accountability is a good thing.

    (Maybe there is some and I am speaking out of my ignorance. Sorry for that, but this thought of obeying a heretic is shocking!)

    Seek to please God and obey Him. This obeying the Pope thing sounds too much like the Quran where you had to obey Muhammad to have true faith.

  3. Doesn't the Pope determine or at least influence interpretation of the Bible? So...couldn't a heretic pope just make sinful things he liked not be interpreted as sin anymore? At what point are you supposed to draw the line and say "Oh nope, not going there, but we're still totally following you!"?

    My brain hurts too. My brain hurt as soon as I started reading the red text though. Do they purposely write these things in needlessly complicated ways so the average person will give up and not look too deep? :D I always had the same question when I was in clubs in college and we had to go over constitution changes. If we have to translate what we just read before we can vote on it, we should vote it down and start over in plain language! ..Sorry, unrelated rant over.

  4. Sanil...LOL! I agree. Just say it so we common folk can understand. :)

    Amber, I remembered I wanted to also say yay for your hard muscles! :)

  5. Alana,

    'Be Orthodox. Problem solved.'

    Oh, trust me that thought was thought.

    I completely understand it taking time to oust heretics who may be in positions of authority. It's the lack of a mechanism to even consider doing it in the Catholic church that shocked me.

    'And doctrine does NOT evolve.'

    One wouldn't think so, no, but I'm not sure what else to call some of the things that have apparently changed in Catholic teaching. I think our understanding of doctrine can get better, but the doctrine itself shouldn't change, should it?

  6. Susanne,

    It reminded me of a dictatorship when I thought about it. *waits for lightning to strike her* When *no one* has the power to remove you from 'office', there's something wrong. And as far as I can tell, that is the case here. Once you're pope, you're pope until death or you resign. No matter what you teach.

    In conclusion, Amber's thinking now falls firmly like thus:

    councils > pope

    As Alana said, the authority rests with the Church (all the bishops in council) and not one bishop.

  7. Sanil,

    Well, the Catholic Church teaches that the Bible can only be properly understood through the 'lense' of the Church and its teachings, and since the pope is the unimpeachable leader of the Catholic Church, one could make that argument, sure.

    'At what point are you supposed to draw the line and say "Oh nope, not going there, but we're still totally following you!"?'

    A very good question. We're supposed to follow the pope, but not into sin. And yet, following the teachings of a heretic *is* a sin. So following anything a heretical pope taught would automatically be sin, but to ignore the popes teaching is *also* a sin (according to what I've been taught). It doesn't matter where the line would theoretically be, though, because I've decided that this is nuts, and is not. my. problem. anymore.

    As to your unrelated rant, I'm on your side. I think they use complicated language to make themselves sound smarter. *rolls eyes* Whatever. And this is just a layman's article - imagine the language in actual Vatican documents. And that starts out in Latin, to boot!

  8. The issues you are seeing are issues that a lot of us have seen. Its one of my big issues with Catholicism and one of the reasons why I ultimately decided it wasn't for me. Pope should not be all powerful, and he should be removable.


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