Keeping in mind Arcbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the battle between liberals and conservatives–when would you disobey the pope?


I would think one would say when he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals for the faithful that is false. But he cannot because of the gift of the Holly Spirit to the Church, infallibility, However, if he told me eating KFC was wrong, I don’t think he would be correct or pope very long and would not fall in the infallibility doctrine. I know of no matter which I disagree.


I responded no, but I kind of wish you had included a “qualified no” (or “qualified yes”) in your list of options.

Since popes are human, they sometimes commit sin, and one of those sinful acts can be a command to someone else to perform a sinful act. A Catholic is bound to disobey any order that is clearly immoral, no matter where that order comes from, even if it comes from one’s own parent.




I would say that I might disobey the Pope if his order was purely one of discipline (not Faith and Morals) and if I could not reasonably comply. Unfortunately, I can’t come up with a real world example that doesn’t devolve into silliness (like eating KFC). For example, let’s say the Pope declared that the fast before Communion was now three days. No food or water. I would then have a problem. I could forgo Communion most of the time but then once a year be required to received. So during the Easter season, I would probably be disobedient as to the fast, and allow my children to eat too.

Now, I do not agree with 100% of what every Pope says. There is nothing that says we can’t disagree with writings, opinions and thoughts of the Pope that are not definitive teachings or laws.


Pax vobiscum!

I accidentally selected “yes”…I didn’t mean to! :eek: Take away one of those “yes” answers and add another one to “no”.

In Christ,


I didn’t answer because obedience is only required for the faithful in dogmatic matters and matters where the Pope has spoken infallibly. If a bishop has sworn obedience to the Pope individually, then they would be bound to that oath. So, the question is too complex to answer in a simple “yes” or “no”.


I agree that the matter is too complex for a simple yes/no answer, as I said in my posting, but I beg to differ with you on the limits of the Pope’s authority.

Dogmatic matters and matters where the Pope speaks infallibly are almost, if not completely, synonymous. The Pope does have authority in matters of discipline as well. That is why we must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent, for example. This is neither a dogmatic nor infallible issue, in that it is a discipline that has been changed.

Priestly celibacy, I would argue, is another discipline that is neither dogmatic nor infallible, but must be followed nonetheless.

Please consider my objections and I welcome your reply.



You are correct and my comments were incorrect. You brought up different categories of obedience. Celibacy is a discipline, but a priest takes a vow of celibacy and is bound by that vow. We are bound by disciplines such as abstaining from meat during Lent, fasting before communion, and attending Mass on Holy Days of obligation. I suppose that I was trying to distinguish between what the faithful in general are obliged to do versus those who have make a vow of obedience. I’m at a loss as to a good example of when an individual Catholic would be free to not obey the Pope.


This is actually (like the Lefebvre excommunications) a hot modern topic: war.

If the pope called up the head of state of a country and told him either to go to or refrain from going to war with a particular group that head of state would not have to obey the pope. One can morally prosecute a war even if that war is unjust in the pope’s opinion because the decision falls to the secular authority, not the pope. The same holds true for whether or not the death penalty is justified in particular cases. A general trend is building: many if not most political decisions allow for “disobedience” (in inapt term since no obedience is bound in such cases).


I understand what you are saying. I think Pastor Aeternus is a very good aid on matters of obedience. ewtn.com/faith/teachings/papae1.htm

I couldn’t answer the poll either. It needed more options. Answering simply yes or no would be troublesome. I also can’t think of area where the pope was seeking obedience where I could not comply. Yes, we can throw out the impossible situations that haven’t occurred and I’m sure someone will but why?


I was being silly because I do not think that the pope would come up with something that was not review by the Holy See and Bishops before he would enforce the teaching. I also believe that a three day fast without food or water is just as silly as KFC, when referring to a teaching set down by the pope. As Pope, he acts in the name of Christ and I hold to my statement, I have not seen anything to date that I cannot agree to. I may not like it but I know that he is teaching or guiding me to heaven.


Dear Andreas Hofer, et. al.

You are quoted to have written the following: "…a hot modern topic: war.

If the pope called up the head of state of a country and told him either to go to or refrain from going to war with a particular group that head of state would not have to obey the pope. …the decision falls to the secular authority, not the pope. The same holds true for whether or not the death penalty is justified in particular cases. …".

You may have the full abridged text of this at the following URL:


Vatican Council I

First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ


“…Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. …”.

My reason for citing this would be it seems that all Catholics, and all Christians must submit to the Roman Pontiff: this is my understanding of the above paragraph; though, it would appeal well to reason and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) that decisions are left in the hands of those authorities, in whom the decision must first reach, before submission to the Roman Pontiff; it would seem to me.

Most sincerely,



In matters of faith and morals, no.

In other areas, it can be.


The war example is a very good one.

If the pope called a world leader and asked him to refrain from prosecuting a war, the world leader is not bound to obey the pope. The pope can state whether he thinks a certain war would be just or not, but his view would not be infallible.

The world leader could consider the war just and be correct. The pope could be wrong. The world leader would not be obliged to obey the pope.


I doubt this would ever happen but if the pope told us to burn our bibles and churchs I am sure i would leave the pope in the dust. If an angel or Mary or Jesus told us to do so I would. Otherwise I wouldnt disobey. And Jesus or an Angel or Mary I believe would have told us to burn those things already if that is what they wanted. So no worries there.


I voted “yes” in defense of why we have the Traditional Latin Mass alive today.

If Archbishop Lefebvre did not ignore the implementation of all the changes to the Mass since 1965 the TLM would be lost and gone for good.

However when did offering the Traditional Latin Mass by any Bishop or priest become an act of disobedience?



Not in every case. It depends what he says and does.


I voted yes, but in truth I would do so only in extremely limited circumstances, such as if he asked me to violate my conscience by participating in the Assisi Interfaith Prayer Gatherings. I could never do that.


In a sense we have Catholics who disagree with the Pope everyday. The Pope doesn’t always issue a command, but he sure lets us know what he sees as required of those who would follow Christ. How often do we fail in carrying out the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy? What are his wishes when it comes to war, the death penalty, the vast numbers of refugees in the world, and one could go on and on. It sure is not the answer of the Genie, “Your wish is my command!”


Dear Reader:

This is a reply to posts fourteen, and fifteen: there is an arguement that the Catholic Church did burn bibles, probably many are familiar with this arguement, of course the opposition say, no bibles were burned on the account that Protestant bibles, are not bibles at all, but only those teachings of Jesus’ time that belonged not to Jews, but to the Pharisees–they rejected those scriptures Jesus quoted from the Septuagint–quotes, which furthered evidence to support the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God, and prophecies, I am told, which further predicted Jesus as Messiah; and further obliterated all references by-and-large, which referenced Jesus as the Messiah.

Martin Luther of course, either did, or wanted to insert in the New Testament that word “alone” to support his claim of Sola Scriptura.

It is the responsibility of the Catholic Church to guard the deposit of faith and therefore, destruction of bibles riddled with heresies–a contemporary example would be the New World Translation–were burned. Each of us, given the opportunity would probably do the same; though, the expense might break some of us.

The other matter I thought sounded in the light, of Vatican I, to be brushed with too broad of a brush-stroke is the Pope calling upon a ruler to stop war, with another country, when declared by a given Pope to be unjust. If the “world leader”, so-to-speak, were Catholic, the leader would be obliged to heed the Pope’s declaration, against the war.

Similarly, the Pope is the head of Christianity, period. There is no way to refute this and therefore, schismatics: Lutherans, varieties of Orthodox churches, and all other Protestant sects are in fact, taught by Jesus to be submissive to the Roman Pontiff. Undoubtedly the command of the Pope against a war to be waged by his own Catholic faithful would no doubt be a declaration that must comply with whatever dignity is to be afforded to a king, a head of state, a president, etc.

It is unfortunate not all Popes have been saints, but it had to be some 1,100 yrs. from the first 800 yrs. of papal succession, all of whom were saints, before Pope Saint Pius X would restore at least for his reign, sainthood to the papacy. The chair of St. Peter should again be blessed with a long lineage of sainted popes.

Most sincerely,


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