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All true sons and daughters of the Church ought to launch a serious world-wide crusade of prayer and penance to implore a divine intervention.
Editor’s note: LifeSite is here publishing an important text issued today by Bishop Athanasius Schneider commenting on some key questions that have been vexing many faithful Catholics in the midst of the current crisis in the Church under Pope Francis.
On the question of the true pope
in the light of the opinion of the automatic loss of the papal office for heresy
and the speculations about the resignation of Benedict XVI
The hypothesis of the possibility of a heretical pope derives from the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, cap. 6, col. 146) from the 12th century. According to the opinion expressed in this decree, the pope cannot be judged by any human authority, except if he has fallen into heresy (a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius). Basing themselves on this spurious decree erroneously attributed to St. Boniface (+754) and accepted by Gratian, the Medieval theologians and theologians of the subsequent centuries maintained as possible the hypothesis – but not the certitude – of a heretical pope. The eventual condemnation of a pope in the case of heresy by a so-called imperfect Council of bishops corresponds to the thesis of mitigated Conciliarism. The heretical thesis of Conciliarism holds that a Council is superior to the pope.
Even if — according to the opinion of the automatic loss of the papacy for heresy — the judgment of the loss of the papal office is pronounced by the heretical pope upon himself, and he automatically falls from office without any judgment by the Church, such an opinion contains a contradiction and reveals a hint of crypto-conciliarism. For according to this opinion, the College of Cardinals or a group of bishops would have to issue an official declaration about the fact of the automatic loss of the papal office. According to another opinion, the automatic loss of the papal office for heresy would be tantamount to a renunciation of the papal office. However, one has to bear in mind the inevitable possibility of disagreement among members of the College of Cardinals or the episcopacy regarding whether or not a pope is guilty of heresy. Hence, there will always be doubts regarding the automatic loss of the papal office. ….