Can the Pope be censured by the college of cardinals?

In the light of the Pope’s most recent announcement regarding same sex civil unions, I have got to say that it is completely misleading and inappropriate for him to say something like that. It’s embarrassing, scandalous, and undermines the institution of the Church.

Is there anything that the College of Cardinals can do? As it stands now I’m just seeing a ton of bishops criticising Francis’ views and separating him (the person with these views), from him (the highest ranking cleric in the largest Christian denomination)

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(Without getting into what is or isn’t warranted in this case): Censured? No. The First See is judged by no one. Correct, rebuke, etc. even publicly if need be? Sure, all with due respect for the hierarchical nature of the Church. The latter has certainly happened at times starting with Peter and Paul.


I think we’re still waiting to find out exactly what the Pope did say, and in what context.

From what I have seen of the Pope’s actual words in Spanish, it seems he may have used the word convivencia , which in Argentina is the legal term for a “stable relationship,” as though it meant the same as unión civil, which is a civil union. That’s where the misunderstandings may have crept in. Austen Ivereigh, a British journalist who is said to be on friendly terms with the Pope, posted this:



I’ve got to say that it is completely misleading and inappropriate for you to characterise it as an “announcement”, especially when it’s become obvious that most of the reporting on it (including the so-called documentary it came from) is blatantly deceptive.


The short answer is NO.

While it’s still a bit unclear what was said and how this transpired, it’s not a stunning position. He apparently said nothing about the sacrament of marriage. As to the civil law, already you have same-sex marriage under the civil law. Pushing back to a civil union looks like a backward step from SSM - which is the law in many jurisdictions…sooooo. That is, it appears to be a move toward emphasizing the sacramental nature of marriage.

Consider what marriage is in under civil law: effectively a contract with certain attendant legal rights, like inheritance, property rights (including certain benefits like insurance, etc.) and next-of-kin rights. That’s it. There is no prohibition in any moral code I’m aware of that prohibits gay men and women from entering into contracts. As to sex…that happens anyway and, frankly, is now totally unrelated to marriage as a civil matter.

In fact, I submit that the Church’s opposition to civil unions for same sex individuals effectively undermined its own position and led to making SSM a reality. Would have done much better IMO to simply acknowledging that a civil union was simply a matter of civil law. Indeed, the Church should have pushed to have civil marriage called a civil union…and not a marriage at all. Then the Church should have focused on marriage as a sacrament and then have marriage squarely within its realm of competence. … By mixing the two…well you have what we have now. Well, the proverbial cow is out of the barn.

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It may be misleading but it’s not inappropiate.

Even if you think what he said is wrong, we have like a million threads stating that the Pope is not infallible in his personal conversations.

Yet everyone acts as if he declared it infallibly like a Dogma.

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Which he didn’t make

Which he didn’t do.

So glad he didn’t make any such comment.

A) there is nothing to do over a comment he didn’t make

B). No, no one has authority over the pope.

Which is a complete waste of time on their part.


What seems inappropriate to me is for an Episcopalian to pose this type of question about a Church he/she doesn’t belong to.


I don’t believe the Church could ever do this because marriage isn’t only a sacrament - it’s also natural. Adam and Eve were married in the eyes of God long before Sacraments.

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The recent statements appear to be a deceptive mash-up on the part of the people that interviewed the Pope, but if a need does arise in the Church (such as when it did in the book of Acts) a brother bishop is able to correct a Pope but he is not able to censure the Pope.



That’s the point…it’s not marriage, it’s a civil union - a simple bundle of rights of a contractual nature.
The Church messed up by resisting a civil union - a contractual arrangement authorized by civil law - and now is trying to backtrack. Can’t eat your cake and have it too.

By refusing a “civil union” that led directly to SSM. Talk about confusing things. Well, as I noted, this cow is out of the barn. Probably can’t get it back in.

calling an apple an orange doesn’t make it an orange, besides the sin is in the act, which is usually part of the civil union

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But calling an apple an apple and an orange an orange is both proper and realistic.

By resisting calls for civil unions the result has been same sex marriage. So the Church created the environment for the state to do exactly what it didn’t want. That to my mind is a screw up.

what is the difference between SSM and civil union as concerns the sin of the act?

That is precisely the point…the “act” as you call it is irrelevant. By focusing on the “act” in the civil arena - where it is legal in every civilized country - the Church has mis-stepped. Criminal laws on adultery, fornication and sodomy are largely wiped off the books. Civil marriage is, therefore, not the means for licit sexual gratification in the civil society. Civil marriage has become simply a bundle of contractual rights. It is little different from a lease, service contract or purchase agreement.

Presumably the Church still views marriage as something more…a sacrament and the only licit situation in which coitus, and similar sexual activity, is permitted. By trying to exclude homosexuals from civil unions the Church took an indefensible position that had the unintended consequence of legalizing same sex marriage. I note it was “indefensible” as attested by its rapid repudiation.

In short, the Church would have done much better to defend marriage and not try to equate it with a civil union. It was, in terms of a chess match, a blunder.

From the Code of Canon Law;

Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one.

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That is taking the law out of context. The OP asked about a censure, not a trial.

First of all, I certainly think everyone should take a step back and admit that we do not know the context or if the translation was accurate within the context, of the Holy Father’s statement. This is certainly a case of :Give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt which he certainly is entitled to by the nature of his office.

In general, could the Pope be censured by the college of cardinals? To my knowledge there is no concept of censure in canon law, so I suppose it depends on what being censured means. If we just take the dictionary definition: express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement, perhaps they could. But I am rather skeptical, as to do so, there would have to be some type of formal meeting of the cardinals to make the expression of disapproval. Any such meeting would have to be constituted under the law, and I doubt that is possible.

I don’t think so, but I have confidence that if necessary the Lord Christ can censure him. Jesus confronted St. Peter as he was leaving Rome and asked “Quo Vadis” - “Where are you going?” The Good Shepherd is aware of what is happening both in the Church and in the hearts of all men. Come, Lord Jesus!

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