Can a pope be removed from office?

Suppose the new person elected pope decides to institute all sorts of off the wall teachings and traditions. Is there a way to remove him or do we just have to ride it out? I’ve heard that a pope serves until the end of his life. I ask this as a former Protestant more accustomed to pastors being removed by the elders if they get out of line. Since no one is over the pope but God, I’m wondering how that works in such a circumstance, unlikely as it may seem.

Although a pope may freely choose to resign his office, he may not be removed from office because his is the highest earthly, human authority in the Church. No human being has the authority to require him to resign or to remove him from office. In Protestant churches, the governance of the churches is often ordered in such a manner that the pastor is answerable to a bishop, a conference, a board, or to the congregation. That is not the case for a pope.

Although a pope is capable of personal sin and of errors in prudential judgment and private teaching, Christ’s promises that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church and that he will be with the Church to the end of time mean that we can trust him to protect the Church from a pope declaring infallibly an error in matters of doctrine or morals.

Recommended reading:

Papal Infallibility

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit