Cum ex Apostolatus Officio

In another thread, the document Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was mentioned in reference to the Papacy and Heresy. I tried to search out exactly what the Church teaches about it from a Google search but all I got were private sites and a search at the Vatican’s website came up with nothing. Does anybody have a link to a reputable website for this document?

Ask and ye shall receive.

Frustratingly, this document is not in Denzinger.

I strongly doubt that a website that has a page “The Heresies of Vatican II” is a legitimate CATHOLIC website

While the document does exist, it is of little value – the pope cannot be judged by any authority on earth and, therefore, there is no one who can judge him to be a heretic. Anyone who does do so clearly rejects Catholic teaching – a Catch-22 situation, I agree, but nevertheless if one is to be Catholic one must accept all Catholic teachings.

Deacon Ed

No its ok, its not necessary to thank me.:rolleyes:

But if he isnt actually the pope, then he could be judged.
Wow im getting a headache.

Yeah, you can wrap your mind around an axle trying to figure this out. However, here’s the approach. If we assume that a man is validly elected as pope then he cannot be judged so there is no way someone could call him a heretic and, therefore, not the pope. The only way one could approach this would be if he were not validly elected (such as Pope Pius XIII – an anti-pope). But by definition an anti-pope is not the pope so it doesn’t matter.

The bottom line – whoever sits on the throne of Peter affirmed by the College of Cardinals is the pope and remains the pope until his death or abdication.

Deacon Ed

Let’s make a deal. I will thank you when you apologise for referring me to a heretical website.

nevertheless if one is to be Catholic one must accept all Catholic teachings.

What does this mean? The rejection of certain doctrines may be a mortal sin but it does not make someone a non-Catholic, just a bad Catholic.

Two things to remember, people: Follow forum rules, and I am the moderator. If you have a problem with a post please use the complaint icon–don’t post complaints within threads. Thank you.

While the document does exist, it is of little value – the pope cannot be judged by any authority on earth and, therefore, there is no one who can judge him to be a heretic.

Cum ex Apostolatus Officio is of little value? And we should listen to you when you declare this? No one can judge the Pope, but you can judge a papal document and tell us it is of “little value”. Amazing.

my apologies Jean

Cum ex Apostolatus is no longer the law. It was abrogated by the 1917 Code. Except, that is, in those points in which it was incorporated in the Code -Canon 188,4.

"Canon Law, A Text and Commentary"
Bouscaren & Ellis 1946.

Principles of Interpretation;

  1. Canons which re-enact the old law without change are in reality nothing more than the old law; and hence are subject to the same interpretation.
  1. Canons which agree in part with the old law carry into the Code the interpretations of the part of the old law which they re-enact.
  1. In doubt whether the law has been changed or not, the presumption is against the change; hence the old law with its interpretations may be relied on.

I am struggling to come to terms with this bull and have a few questions.

  1. Was this bull proclaimed ex cathedra?

  2. Are all papal bulls ex cathedra statements or only if they contain specific language?

  3. If this bull pertains only to matters of law, not faith and morals, and can therefore be lawfully altered or abrogated by future pontiffs, how can I be sure of this, using this bull as a source? What other relevant sources can I use to justify that position?

Here is the text of the bull itself. I got it from Wikipedia, which has several links to the bull.

Dear Deacon Ed,

After reading the document, I did not get that at all. It states that a heretic who has been elected Pontiff renders the election automatically null and void.


It’s a disciplinary document, so it is not irreformable. Any papal document, including a Bull, that definitively proclaims some truth to be believed or held by the whole Church (which is often done in the form of a solemn condemnation of an error) is considered infallible and irreformable. Otherwise, its not. Furthermore, this is not to give some new doctrine, but to confirm that irreformable truth that has been handed down. The doc in the OP is pretty clearly laying down election law.

The document cited in the OP is actually quite the novelty in how strict it is–barring even those who have repented of their heresy. If this were some dogmatic teaching, Pope Pius II could never have been Pope–he was a concilliarist heretic who participated in a schismatical and heretical council and was the Master of Ceremonies in a schismatical and heretical conclave that elected an anti-pope. And he became Pope.

Anyway many Popes issue legislation governing elections of their successors. It bears pointing out that Pope Pius XII’s legislation (which repeated what most others had done and which as been repeated by his successors) suspends all excommunications and penalties and allows such a person to both vote and be elected. The point of this is so the winner of the office is not contested leading to the kind of confusion sedevacantists try to sow in this regard.

“34. No Cardinal, by pretext or reason of any excommunication, suspension, in-terdict or other ecclesiastical impediment whatsoever can be excluded in any way from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff. Moreover, we suspend such censures for the effect only of this election, even though they shall remain otherwise in force.” (Cons. “Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis,” 8 December 1945)

(passive election refers to being elected, rather than electing someone else).

Subsequent Pontiffs have retained the same such legislation governing Conclaves.

Also, the legitimacy of the election of the Roman Pontiff is a dogmatic fact. See also about the 6th paragraph in section 11 of this commentary from the CDF.

Furthermore, the local Roman Church is indefectible as is the Church as a whole so it would not follow or accept a false Pope and neither would the entire Church if some Roman Pontiff were to tacitly abdicate due to pertinacious heresy (and there is debate if it is even possible for him to do so)–and again, this relates back to the reason why the identity of the true Successor of Peter is a dogmatic fact.


This is great! I didn’t know that about him :slight_smile: Thanks for the info.

If course, I don’t believe conciliarism is a heresy. It’s nice to know the movement was still alive and kicking in the western church at the time.

I think (forgive me if I am wrong here) that Deacon Ed was making the observation that only the Pope may judge if he himself is a heretic, and if he doesn’t think he is a heretic no one else may declare his election null.

I think that’s why the sedevecantist movement is so pertinacious and yet irresolvable. Those who feel the election of recent Popes has been null do not in fact have the authority to make that determination. They cannot in good conscience acknowledge the election but they can’t get the occupant of the Holy See to agree with them. :shrug:

Yeah, it basically rose up again briefly after the Great Western Schism due to the confusion concerning the papacy that era caused, but it was pretty much gone after the incident with the Council of Basel.

The interesting thing about it is after the Council of Basel went into schism with the Pope basically over this issue, the Greeks who were coming for a reunion Council had to choose which Council to go to–the Concilliarists’ council in Basel or Pope Eugene’s Council in Ferrara (and then Florence); they had been invited to both. They chose the Pope’s.

As an aside, Pope Pius II during his papacy solemnly condemned conciliarism, and issued another Bull retracting his previous errors which contains the famous phrase “Reject Aeneas, accept Pius.” (Aeneas being his name before becoming Pope). He also had been quite worldly in his earlier days, but ended up being one of the more austere and pious Popes of his era, which was quite uncommon in the Renaissance period.

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