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.