Is it a sin to disagree with the Pope?


I assume the answer is “it depends” but I’ve seen posters vehemently disagree with Pope Francis that “Islam is a religion of peace”, many disagree with the many popes who did not find corporal punishment or the Iraq War to be just, and some disagree with Pope John Paul II regarding marital sex (AFAIK he did find it reasonable for a husband to bring a wife to orgasm with “loving touches” if she could not achieve orgasm through intercourse, but some posters here would disagree).

And while most have phrased these disagreements respectfully, others have really been strident with their disagreements, and I wonder if some of this borders on sin, not for disagreeing, but for the amount of disrespect involved.


Hi ToeinTheWater, Those are good questions. I’m not an expert but here is what I think. Disagreeing with a Pope is only a sin if what you are disagreeing with is official Church Dogma or Doctrine. Those things we are all bound to believe and if we can’t seem to understand a doctrine we should at least try to learn what it really means and why. And, realizing that the Church is protected from error in official dogma, we give it assent of faith and pray to the Holy Spirit that we would be enlightened.

A Pope, like anyone else can be wrong in his personal opinions. However, you are right to disagree with those who are not respectful, if not of the person, at least of his office as head of the Church.




It really does depend. Pope Benedict made a famous statement at the beginning of his Jesus of Nazareth book saying people were free to disagree with what he said in the book. So we are free to disagree with any pope’s theological opinion. It’s only when a pope is teaching something as pope that we can’t disagree. In other words, he’s not just giving his thoughts on the matter, but is saying this is what the Church teaches and believes.

That said, I think you are absolutely right. Showing disrespect for the Pope’s opinion is bordering on sin. We are supposed to honor those in authority over us. I also don’t think we should just ignore what the Pope has to say if we find it disagreeable to our ears. My basic thought process is: I’m not smarter than him, he’s been thinking about this issue a lot longer than I have, he probably has an insight that I’ve never considered before. So I’m going to hear him out. There’s a higher probability that I’m the one who’s wrong on the issue than that he is.

So bottom line, we are not obligated to agree with everything he says or does. But we are definitely obligated to respect him and not bad mouth him when we think he is off.


We are allowed to disagree on things that are his private opinions or his personal advice. For example, Paul VI said that wealthier countries should lend aid to poorer ones, but that has since proven to fatten the Swiss bank accounts of dictators and othe shady characters.

However, I think a lot of people are out to get Pope Francis these days. Anti-Catholic fundamentalists and secularists, as well as “rad-trads” and sedevacantists, are looking to further their agendas by saying “look, he’s a heretic/apostate/liberal/Modernist!” ItMs telling how people who would want to kill each other are accusing him of both opposing and the same crimes.

Francis’ humility and love for the least of the world is getting under their skin because he doesn’t buy their ideologies. It just goes to show you that no good deed goes unpunished, and anything other than orthodoxy and deferral to true authority leads to madness and confusion.


I assuming it will only be a sin if what the Pope has said is in complete agreement with the Lord and you (as a faithful Christian) decided not to pay any attention to him. I do not find posters who seem to have this disagreement with Islam had forgotten that Christians have done more wrongs in waging wars among themselves than anyone else. We seem to forget that Christianity has involved itself with these wars so we need to rethink about Islam which can act like us. There is good and bad in Christianity and Islam and while the religion teaches peace the people who live in and through it may not practice it.


It is not sinful to disagree with personal opinions of the Pope. Of course it should not be done in a disrespectful way.

For example, in the book Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI he evens writes “It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magesterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search for the face of the Lord. Everyone is free, then, to contradict me. I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding.”


Out of respect for this forum’s owners, I won’t say everything I would like to say here, but I will direct you to a Traditionalist Catholic forum ( that, if you join it, the folks there will help you understand what is going on in the Church, and why you really don’t have to worry if it is a sin to criticise Francis.

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