Heretic Pope of Rome


#1

I posted this in the Eastern Christianity Forum, and a Latin stated that the real guns were here (or something to that effect:p ).

So, what’s your verdict?


#2

Well, it is 12:17 a.m. here on the west coast of the U.S., so you probably won’t be getting a lot of answers anytime soon. What exactly do you want to know? Can someone who holds a heretical belief still be Pope? If that is the question, I’ll try to give you an answer tomorrow. Peace be with you Isa.


#3

There have been occassions in the Church’s history that wicked people have attempted to subvert its power to political ends. The Church exists to protect the fides quae- the deposit of faith- the truth of the Revelation of the logos made sarx. This mission has never been corrupted.


#4

catholic.com/library/Papal_Infallibility.asp


#5

I think what Isa wants to know is if a pope holds heretical beliefs as Honorius was condemned for but doesn’t teach those beliefs ex cathedra do the beliefs alone cause him to loose the papacy. My understanding (limited as it may be) is if a Catholic holds heretical beliefs even if they never express them they incur the penalty of automatic excommunication. If that is true does it apply to the pope and if so how would it affect the special charisma attached to his office?


#6

I’ll do my best to answer within this framework, but I’ll have to deviate at a couple of points to fully answer the questions.

In some ways using Honorius as an example muddies the waters in giving a precise answer. I say that because it isn’t entirely clear upon what basis he was declared a heretic. His writings really don’t support the notion that he taught Monothelitism or that he held to it. I find it more likely that he was condemned for failing to dutifully carry out his office in defining Catholic doctrine on the matter.

Furthermore, it is unclear whether he qualifies as a formal heretic or a material heretic. I have read the article from the Catholic Encyclopedia, but it doesn’t give any guidance in this regard. If anything, it looks to be that he was declared a material heretic, not that he intentionally taught Monothelitism knowing it was a heresy or that he intentionally deprived his flock of a needed doctrinal decree.

Regardless, as I will explain below, a Pope who is deemed to be a heretic does not cause him to lose his ability to validly carry out his duties as the Roman Pontiff, and that includes his ability to speak ex cathedra.

My understanding (limited as it may be) is if a Catholic holds heretical beliefs even if they never express them they incur the penalty of automatic excommunication.

It is true that formally holding to a heretical belief does carry with it automatic excommunication. But that does not mean that the one excommunicated cannot validly carry out his episcopal duties. His actions would be illicit and, therefore, sinful, but just because a Pope doesn’t remove himself from office as he should in such a situation does not mean that his actions are invalid. If you understand the Augustinian view of apostolic succession, then you will see why the Latin Church requires this to be the result.

For example, even though the Latins view the EO bishops as schismatic and in many cases as heretics, it does not deny the validity of their apostolic roots or their ability to validly confer holy orders and the other sacraments. They may be acting sinfully, just as a Pope who is a heretic would be acting sinfully by continuing to exercise the powers of his office.

If that is true does it apply to the pope and if so how would it affect the special charisma attached to his office?

As explained above, it would not affect the charism of infallibility just as it would not affect his other episcopal powers.


#7

I suppose I look at this and have a kind of “who cares” reaction. It is true that a heretic cannot be validly elected pope (I don’t know about the rules regarding a pope later becoming a formal heretic). However, all this would mean is that Honorious was not a valid pope. We have vacant seats all the time, even though they usually only last a little while in between the death of a pope and the election of the next. In this case the “little while” would have been a bit longer. Who cares? The point is, the chain of successors still exists and so does the office.


#8

Here is what I found about Pope Honorius I from Wikipedia:

More than forty years after his death, Honorius was anathematized by name along with the Monothelite heretics[neutrality disputed] by the Third Council of Constantinople (First Trullan) in 680. The anathema read, after mentioning the Monothelites, “and with them Honorius, who was Prelate of Rome, as having followed them in all things”.

Furthermore, the Acts of the Thirteenth Session of the Council state, “And with these we define that there shall be expelled from the holy Church of God and anathematized Honorius who was some time Pope of Old Rome, because of what we found written by him to [Patriarch] Sergius, that in all respects he followed his view and confirmed his impious doctrines.” The Sixteenth Session adds: “To Theodore of Pharan, the heretic, anathema! To Sergius, the heretic, anathema! To Cyrus, the heretic, anathema! To Honorius, the heretic, anathema! To Pyrrhus, the heretic, anathema!” These excerpts from the Acts (if considered genuine copies of the original) show that Honorius was, indeed, anathematized as a Monothelite.

This condemnation was subsequently confirmed by Leo II (a fact disputed by such persons as Cesare Baronio and Bellarmine,[1] but which has since become commonly accepted) in the form, “and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted” (quotations from the Catholic Encyclopedia).

This anathema was later one of the main arguments against Papal infallibility in the discussions surrounding the First Vatican Council of 1870, where the episode was not ultimately regarded as contrary to the proposed dogma. This was because (1) Honorius was not considered to be speaking ex cathedra, by the supporters of infallibility, in the letters in question (although the Roman historian Hefele and opponents of the definition believed that Honorius had spoken ex cathedra) [2], and (2) he was alleged to have never been condemned as a Monothelite, nor, asserted the proponents of infallibility, was he condemned for teaching heresy, but rather for gross negligence and a lax leadership at a time when his letters and guidance were in a position to quash the heresy at its roots.

Link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Honorius_I

((continue))


#9

NewAdvent gives a more detail account:

It was now for the pope to pronounce a dogmatic decision and save the situation. He did nothing of the sort. His answer to Sergius did not decide the question, did not authoritatively declare the faith of the Roman Church, did not claim to speak with the voice of Peter; it condemned nothing, it defined nothing. Honorius entirely agrees with the caution which Sergius recommends. He praises Sergius for eventually dropping the new expression “one operation”, but he unfortunately also agrees with him that it will be well to avoid “two operations” also; for if the former sounds Eutychian, the latter may be judged to be Nestorian. Another passage is even more difficult to account for. Following the lead of Sergius, who had said that “two operations” might lead people to think two contrary wills were admitted in Christ, Honorius (after explaining the communicatio idiomatum, by which it can be said that God was crucified, and that the Man came down from heaven) adds: “Wherefore we acknowledge one Will of our Lord Jesus Christ, for evidently it was our nature and not the sin in it which was assumed by the Godhead, that is to say, the nature which was created before sin, not the nature which was vitiated by sin.” Other passages in the letter are orthodox. But it is plain that the pope simply followed Sergius, without going more deeply into the question. The letter cannot be called a private one, for it is an official reply to a formal consultation. It had, however, less publicity than a modern Encyclical.

As the letter does not define or condemn, and does not bind the Church to accept its teaching, it is of course impossible to regard it as an ex cathedra utterance. But before, and even just after, the Vatican Council such a view was sometimes urged, though almost solely by the opponents of the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Part of a second letter of Honorius to Sergius was read at the eighth council. It disapproves rather more strongly of the mention of either one operation or two; but it has the merit of referring to the words of St. Leo which Sergius had cited.

On the other hand the chief advocates of papal infallibility, for instance, such great men as Melchior Canus in the sixteenth century, Thomassinus in the seventeenth, Pietro Ballerini in the eighteenth, Cardinal Perrone in the nineteenth, have been careful to point out that Honorius did not define anything ex cathedra. But they were not content with this amply sufficient defence. Some followed Baronius, but most, if not all, showed themselves anxious to prove that the letters of Honorius were entirely orthodox. There was indeed no difficulty in showing that Honorius was probably not a Monothelite. It would have been only just to extend the same kindly interpretation to the words of Sergius. The learned Jesuit Garnier saw clearly, however, that it was not as a Monothelite that Honorius was condemned. He was coupled with Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, the Ecthesis, and the Type. It is by no means clear that Sergius, Pyrrhus, and the Ecthesis are to be accounted as Monothelite, since they forbade the mention of “one operation”; it is quite certain that Paul and the Type were anti-Monothelite, for they prohibited “one Will” also. Garnier pointed out that the council condemned Honorius for approving Sergius and for “fomenting” the dogmas of Pyrrhus and Paul. This view was followed by many great writers, including Pagi.

newadvent.org/cathen/07452b.htm


#10

Just a comment - I’m Asian and Roman Catholic and I find it a bit disconcerting to be called a “Latin”. I know the historical context, of course, and it’s correct…


#11

I find a number of things in this post interesting, but I’ll have to comment later when I have time.


#12

That’s great.


#13

Sorry for the delay.

In some ways using Honorius as an example muddies the waters in giving a precise answer. I say that because it isn’t entirely clear upon what basis he was declared a heretic. His writings really don’t support the notion that he taught Monothelitism or that he held to it. I find it more likely that he was condemned for failing to dutifully carry out his office in defining Catholic doctrine on the matter.

Of course we Orthodox have a problem with the last part, as one of the main selling points that Latins pitch to us on infallibility is that it settles matters of faith and morals, and Honorius example might be an issue of heresy by omission, rather than commission, but even that can be disputed (or at least it is) on whether Honorius taught it or not.

The examples of Vigilius, who lagged behind condemning the Three Chapters, and Zosimus’ defense and exoneration of Pelagius until he (the Pope) got with the program of the rest of the Chruch on the issue, also raise similar question. The diffrence being that these Popes later came to what the Church had already decided, and therefore were not condemned. Liberius and Arians raises other issues.

Furthermore, it is unclear whether he qualifies as a formal heretic or a material heretic. I have read the article from the Catholic Encyclopedia, but it doesn’t give any guidance in this regard. If anything, it looks to be that he was declared a material heretic, not that he intentionally taught Monothelitism knowing it was a heresy or that he intentionally deprived his flock of a needed doctrinal decree.

Again, providing the needed decree is the main selling point of infallibility.

Regardless, as I will explain below, a Pope who is deemed to be a heretic does not cause him to lose his ability to validly carry out his duties as the Roman Pontiff, and that includes his ability to speak ex cathedra.

It is true that formally holding to a heretical belief does carry with it automatic excommunication. But that does not mean that the one excommunicated cannot validly carry out his episcopal duties. His actions would be illicit and, therefore, sinful, but just because a Pope doesn’t remove himself from office as he should in such a situation does not mean that his actions are invalid. If you understand the Augustinian view of apostolic succession, then you will see why the Latin Church requires this to be the result.

For example, even though the Latins view the EO bishops as schismatic and in many cases as heretics, it does not deny the validity of their apostolic roots or their ability to validly confer holy orders and the other sacraments. They may be acting sinfully, just as a Pope who is a heretic would be acting sinfully by continuing to exercise the powers of his office.

As explained above, it would not affect the charism of infallibility just as it would not affect his other episcopal powers.

Ex opere operato? It is an interesting take on the issue. I hope to follow up, but my time is up for now.

To be continued…


#14

Yes, but one can see the problems of a pope who refrains from making ex cathedra statements, yet uses his powers to promote his heresy (e.g. removing dissenters, appointing bishops of like mind, etc.).

It is true that formally holding to a heretical belief does carry with it automatic excommunication. But that does not mean that the one excommunicated cannot validly carry out his episcopal duties. His actions would be illicit and, therefore, sinful, but just because a Pope doesn’t remove himself from office as he should in such a situation does not mean that his actions are invalid. If you understand the Augustinian view of apostolic succession, then you will see why the Latin Church requires this to be the result.

Of course those valid consecrations of heretical bishops is going to cause a problem eventually.

For example, even though the Latins view the EO bishops as schismatic and in many cases as heretics, it does not deny the validity of their apostolic roots or their ability to validly confer holy orders and the other sacraments. They may be acting sinfully, just as a Pope who is a heretic would be acting sinfully by continuing to exercise the powers of his office.

And could create a heretical church within the Church, using all his valid powers illicitly, with no one to stop him (remember, God only “promises” when it’s ex cathedra).

As explained above, it would not affect the charism of infallibility just as it would not affect his other episcopal powers.

And if he choses not to exercise the charism, and instead use his episcopal powers to undermine the True Faith?


#15

You might think so, but one thing that all Christians agree upon is that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, even though we may have different definitions of what constitutes the Church and the authority structure of the the hierarchy. Also, as Catholics, we have not seen the potential problem you propose take shape.

Of course those valid consecrations of heretical bishops is going to cause a problem eventually.

No doubt. Not to be flippant here, but the Orthodox and Anglican consecrations confront the Catholic Church with exactly that problem. Yet we have no basis upon which we can declare them invalid. If we were to declare them invalid because they were performed by schismatics and heretics, then the validity of every consecration would be in doubt because we cannot see into the hearts of men. This is why Catholics reject the Cyprianic theory of apostolic succession.

And could create a heretical church within the Church, using all his valid powers illicitly, with no one to stop him (remember, God only “promises” when it’s ex cathedra).

Lol! God “promises” many things in ecumenical councils as well, even though some of its members may be heretics. Anyway, the other bishops can and have corrected the Pontiff when he has erred. They aren’t there just for fun. Civil authorities have also historically played a part. It isn’t quite accurate to say that there is no one to stop a Pope who is using his powers illicitly. Although you are correct that no one, no council, has the authority to depose a Pope even if he were to engage in heresy.

And if he choses not to exercise the charism, and instead use his episcopal powers to undermine the True Faith?

The Church will still survive. The Orthodox also believe in God’s providence in this way. Heretics within your ranks don’t mean that God’s Church will fail.


#16

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