Can a pope become ipso facto?


Can anyone answer me “whether a pope can become ipso facto (ie. excommunicated, and lose his authority) if he publicly proclaims heresies”? Knowing of course, that we have not had any in the past, but if it should it happen how should a person react? What did past popes say on this matter?
May God bless all!

Yours in Christ through Mary,



Can anyone answer me “whether a pope can become ipso facto …lose his authority if he publicly proclaims heresies”?

List of Old Foggies:
[FONT=Times New Roman]St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, II, 30:
[/FONT][LEFT][FONT=Times New Roman] “A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.”[/FONT][/LEFT]

St. Francis De Sales, Doctor of the Church, The Catholic Controversy, pp. 305-306 :
"Now when he [the Pope] is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church…"
St. Antoninus (1459):
“In the case in which the pope would become a heretic, he would find himself, by that fact alone [ipso facto] and without any other sentence, separated from the Church.A head separated from a body cannot, as long as it remains separated, be head of the same body from which it was cut off. A pope who would be separated from the Church by heresy, therefore, would by that very fact itself cease to be head of the Church. He could not be a heretic and remain pope, because, since he is outside of the Church, he cannot possess the keys of the Church.” ([FONT=&quot]Summa Theologica, cited in Actes de Vatican I. V. Frond pub.)
I believe that Pius V also had something to say on the matter

how should a person react?

The dilemma here is how will you have any certitude that he is or has become a heretic?
The NO Posters insists that it cannot be known, or if one does make that judgment, they really cannot act on it in any public way such as teach it to others.
So these posters believe that you’ll just have to “suck it up” so to speak and live with it.

The problem then presents itself: what is the useful value in deciding privately that a pope is a heretic?
The answer is that it has no practical value whatsoever.
A contrary directive comes from St Paul:
Romans 16
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid
Titus 3
10 A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid:

A better answer would likely come from my esteemed and superior fellow poster, ThereCanBeOnly1


Much as we malign our Bishops, I would suppose it would be up to them to take appropriate action. Happened before in handling the Papal Schism. I expect over the long term that the Holy Spirit would find a way to solve such a problem. As individual lay people we need to “keep our nose clean” and follow our conscience even as everyone else goes to hell. Its not like the Pope has an army or an inquisition to force anyone to comply with his heresy. It would be like it is today for Benedict to make changes; like pushing on a rope to move the laity.



What did past popes say on this matter?

The main pope on this issue was Pius IV, the Original "Hammer of Heretics"
Try to locate:[FONT=&quot]
[size=4]Cum ex Apostolatus Officio


Dear TNT and Rwoehmke,
Thank you for your information…TNT, forgive me for asking a direct question, but…Do you and “ThereCanBeOnly1” both believe then that:
1) All of our past popes since Paul VI were heretics…
2) Vatican II was a heretical council, along with the change of Canon Law?
I have another question if you do agree with those…If there have been no valid popes since Vatican II, do we then not have many valid priests even in the Byzantine Rite?
May God bless all!

Yours in Christ through Mary,


Friends, I think this discussion is slowly leading to the topic known as sedevacantism, which is probably more suited to the Traditional Catholicism forum, where it is allowed. :slight_smile:


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