Poll: Do clergy loose office if they are heretics?

It has been submitted to me as gospel truth that the Catholic position is that if any clergy member, up to and including the pope, professes heresy, even if not in a formal ex cathedra manner, they automatically loose office and the gift of infallibility (in the case of the pope).

This principle is said to hold true even if 99% of the church continues to recognize the heretic as a legitimate office holder.

Hopefully you should see a poll somewhere. If you don’t, then I’ve stuffed something up somewhere along the line :slight_smile:

Yes! It worked! :smiley:

There is no authority on earth that can legitimately depose a Bishop from his Office other than the Pope (a Bishop may be suspended from his Office by a canonical authority, but can not be removed from his Office except by the Pope, by whose authority (and upon whose pleasure) he serves).

There is no authority on earth that can legitimately depose a Pope, PERIOD. (Well, technically, a Pope may legitimately depose himself, as Benedict-16 did, but no there is no OTHER authority that can do so.)

Bishops and Popes have been effectively “deposed” by force of arms or of civil authority, but never under terms that are recognized as legitimate, in ANY way whatsoever, by the Catholic Church.

Nobody “automatically” loses office, although we might wish that that were so in the case of certain individuals.

We do not need to worry about the pope teaching heresy. It has never happened and never will. Christ will never abandon His Church.

I’m afraid this is not true. If someone is removed from office for heresy, it would be through the decision of a superior in the Catholic Church. There have been a few cases of this in the news, even several bishops that were removed from office by the Pope in recent years. But this is no automatic thing.
If this were true, priests and sisters being removed from their positions would always be in the news, since many of them could be expected to protest to the media.
I find the opinions this person gave you quite odd, particularly his saying that the Pope would lose the gift of infallibility. I have read very widely in the literature of Catholicism, and I have never heard anyone talking about the Pope losing his gift of infallibility.

It is my understanding that pope Honorius taught heresy. I heard James White in a debate quote Honorius as saying “we confess one will” (a heretical statement given the context) and Bob Sungenis, who knows his stuff better than most, made no objection, and admitted that Honorius taught a heretical view.

Some people say he was unjustly accused, but as far as I can tell, none of the big pop apologists take this line, so it is probably untennable.

I thought you believed that the pope was only protected from teaching heresy ex cathedra.

It isn’t quite like that. The person who told me this used George Pell as an example (he apparantly said Adam and Eve were mythological, which I am told is contrary to Roman Catholic dogma). Last I checked, he is still wearing cardinal clothes and being paid to be the cardinal. The idea is that they loose office regardless of how many people recognize that fact

As for the gift of infallibility, the idea is that goes part and parcel with the office. Loose the office, loose the gift.**

Maybe he did (and maybe he didn’t). But, you are the OP. You deliberately phrased your question to regard the validity of the Office, regardless of whether the Office belonged to the Pope (and is thus protected by ex Cathedra).

You asked if teaching heresy was an automatic disqualification from Office for a Bishop or Pope. We have answered, and told you that there is no such thing as an automatic disqualification from Office. A Bishop might be suspended from Office by an ecclesiastical Court, with a full trial (in which case the prosecution and the Bishop were allowed to present evidence). This is a judicial process (not an automatic process). But no such Court can remove a Bishop from his Office. Only the Pope can do that (and he doesn’t need a Court to do it). A Pope appointed every single Bishop of the Church, and only a Pope can remove him from his Office.

The Pope (alone) is immune from ALL Canon Law. No ecclesiastical Court can try or convict him on any offense whatsoever. Heck, the Pope could completely eradicate all Canon Law (and all ecclesiastical Courts) with nothing more than a whim. Nothing on earth binds a Pope.

Now you ask about a heretical Pope. You derail your OWN question. It does not matter if EVERY Pope was a flippin’ heretic. It does not matter with regard to his Office.

Are you asking if being a heretic automatically removes a Bishop or Pope from his Office, or are you asking if any Bishops or Popes have ever been heretics?

Answer to Question #1: No, never, absolutely not.
Answer to Question #2: Yes, absolutely.

You are the OP. This is YOUR thread, and YOUR question. But you seem to make it a moving target. What, exactly, are you asking? We can’t answer YOUR question if you change the question.

Please, I was not asking about that pope, I was merely offering a correction to a statement that I believe to be erroneous. When I said *pope *Honorius, I didn’t mean that to in any way be a comment on whether he was a valid pope or an antipope, I only said ‘pope’ because it is a safe bet that some of the people on this forum wouldn’t know that there was a pope (valid or anti) called honorius, and would be confused.

I wasn’t asking about the existence of heretical popes, and I didn’t intend to make the thread a moving target. I was just offering a correction!

Please, I was not asking about that pope, I was merely offering a correction to a statement that I believe to be erroneous. When I said *pope *Honorius, I didn’t mean that to in any way be a comment on whether he was a valid pope or an antipope, I only said ‘pope’ because it is a safe bet that some of the people on this forum wouldn’t know that there was a pope (valid or anti) called honorius, and would be confused.

I wasn’t asking about the existence of heretical popes, and I didn’t intend to make the thread a moving target. I was just offering a correction to something someone else said!

OK, sorry.

I was just offering a correction to something someone else said!

PaulFromIowa stated one absolute truth, and another truth that cannot be completely demonstrated.

He stated that there is no such thing as an “automatic” removal from Office for any member of the clergy. This is true. It is not a matter of Catholic Doctrine, but a matter of Canon Law. It does not exist in either Doctrine or Law, although Law gives some latitude to remove certain clerics and religious (but never a Pope) from their positions of leadership by judicial process (but never by “automatic” means).

He also stated that no Pope has ever “taught” error. This is a position that is not as easily defended, as the definition of what constitutes “infallible Papal teaching” is rather recent (as of the First Vatican Council, about a Century ago). The Church has NEVER said that everything that every Pope ever says is infallible. But the Church never attempted to make any distinction until a century ago.

This has had a number of disagreeable effects. Many Catholics now feel it is perfectly OK to reject ANY Papal teaching that has not been formally declared to be infallibly promulgated (and such a formal declaration is now required under Canon Law to term ANY Church teaching as infallible). This. many faithful Catholics honestly believe that it is perfectly OK to use artificial birth control, because Humane Vite has not been formally declared by the Church to be infallible. In the minds of many modern Catholics, there are now TWO types of Church Doctrine: *Infallible *(which are few, but must be adhered to) and (for lack of any better antonym) *fallible *(which are most, and are optional).

You are correct that some Popes may have made errors and that papal infallibility only refers to very limited instances. My statement that “no Pope has taught heresy” may be a slight overstatement. However, a minor error does not constitute the grave sin of heresy.

The article on Honorius at New Advent, from the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, makes the case that Honorius was castigated not because he taught heresy, but because he failed to teach against heresy – that is, that he instructed Sergius to teach neither ‘one will’ nor ‘two wills’. More to the point, he did so in a private letter, not in a statement that (today) would be considered an official exercise of the charism of infallibility through the magisterium (i.e., teaching authority of the Church).

It isn’t quite like that. The person who told me this used George Pell as an example (he apparantly said Adam and Eve were mythological, which I am told is contrary to Roman Catholic dogma). Last I checked, he is still wearing cardinal clothes and being paid to be the cardinal. The idea is that they loose office regardless of how many people recognize that fact**

There is a lot to unpack in what you’ve written here. First, it would be necessary to confirm that this was indeed heresy – we would need to understand precisely what he meant, and the context in which it was offered. Second, we would need to confirm that what he meant was in conflict with a doctrine of the Church. Third, we would need to confirm that it’s an obstinate denial of Church doctrine. So, it would seem to be necessary that the appropriate official within the Church would make a declaration that this was heretical before any action could be taken. Finally, the loss of office (while it might be the proper action in a particular case) does not take effect until the appropriate declaration decreeing the penalty is made. So, “still wearing cardinal clothes and being paid to be the cardinal” is exactly the appropriate situation: he has neither been declared a heretic nor served with a decree removing him from office.

[quote]As for the gift of infallibility, the idea is that goes part and parcel with the office. Loose the office, loose the gift.

No…! A single individual – unless he is the pope – has no charism of infallibility! The charism of infallibility is exercised (under specific and distinct circumstances) either by the pope himself, or by the college of bishops in communion with the pope. If a single bishop says something that isn’t in unison with the teaching of the Church, then this failure on his part isn’t an indication that infallibility has been thwarted. In fact, even if the pope makes a mistake, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s nullified infallibility – he has to be attempting to make a doctrinal statement on faith and morals in order for infallibility to be invoked!
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