Pope John Paul and Heresy?


A Catholic friend of mine commented that the Church is recovering from heresies that were brought in by the Late Pope John Paul II, and our current Pope has to re-introduce orthodoxy. As a Protestant, and a huge fan of John Paul, I was not aware of any heresies or bad teachings of the late Pope. Was there anything that John Paul did that was questionable?


We are permitted to question the wisdom of some things he did, and some people do, particularly Pope JP II’s ecumenical forays (although I am of the opinion that he did well), but we must hold that he did not teach heresy, as that would be against our doctrine of papal infallibility.


There were no heresies brought in by John Paul II. Pope Benedict is bringing the Church back to Orthodoxy, but not due to any heresies of JPII’s.


Jesus said to Peter that he is the rock upong Christ built His Church. Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and whateve he binds on earth will be bound on heaven. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail.

True, a pope’s action or opinion can be wrong, but we have Jesus’s promise that no pope will lead the chuch into heresy. For that to ever happen would mean that our Lord did not keep His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail over the church.

There are some “Catholics” who think they are more Catholic than the pope (actually, there is a book with that title). They have fallen in the same error as Protestants, exalting their own individual infallibility over the infallibility of the pope. And yet Christ only called Peter the rock. When someone who is a “Catholic” says that the pope fell into heresy, he bases it on his interpretation of scripture, or his interpretation of what a Council had said, or his interpretation of what the pope had said that he thinks is so heretical. He is doing the same things as what Protestants do, thinking his own thinking of things is better than the pope’s. But God never promised that He would keep anyone other than the pope individual from falling into error. So if I find myself is serious disagreement with the pope, it is highly likely that it is I who is wrong. I need humility from God to see that.


We do remember, do we not, that as Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981-2005) our dear Benedict was pretty much John Paul II’s “right hand man?” Considering his appointment took place 2-3 years after John Paul II became Pope and lasted through John Paul’s papacy, that seems pretty significant.

God love them both.


Your friend would have to specify what exactly he’s talking about. Under scrutiny these “heresies” would prove to be proper teachings.


What heresies? Its up to your friend to provide evidence of his claim and not up to us to refute some vague generalisation!


It bears pointing out that the current Pope was the chief “doctrinal enforcer,” so to speak, of John Paul II.

John Paul may have done or said things that some find scandalous or even sinful, but that really is irrelevant as Popes are not impeccable–they are fallen human beings too. But to say he introduced heresies would not be true–on the other hand, with the authority of Peter he reproved various errors regarding morality, the priesthood, the sacraments, the uniqueness and universality of the salvific work of Christ and the Catholic faith, etc.

The problems in the Church had been festering for a great while, finally exploding on the surface during the social revolutions of the 60s; rather than introducing these problems, it was John Paul who really started getting things back in line (you may have heard the term “John Paul II generation of priests” known for their orthodoxy) and I think that Pope Benedict has taken the next steps forward in that regard.


One area of study for you would be to examine how modernism infected the Church in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. All of the Popes during this period combatted this heresy. The problems the Church is dealing with today do not stem from Papal teaching or Vatican II but from the lingering effects of this heresy and from those who continue to promote it.


Actually, this is incorrect.

The dogma of Papal Infallibility assures the church that there will be no Ex Cathedra heretical statements. That is the full extent of the protection.

As far as I know, Pope John Paul (of blessed memory) did not make any Ex Cathedra statements at all. No one is impeccable, so the Bishop of Rome could theoretically have potentially heretical ideas or personal opinions as well as have moral lapses. (I don’t see why anyone would make such claims about that particular Pope.)

He might even talk about these opinions, but he is prevented (according to the theory) from making an Ex Cathedra statement on them if they are heretical.

That is according to the limits of the dogma on Papal Infallibility as announced by the Vatican Council of 1870AD.


How would a pope make a teaching that does not qualify as ex cathedra?
(I also disagree that JPII did not make any statements ex cathedra, but that’s a different thread, probably closed several times over by now ;))


Papal Bulls and encyclicals (unless they are the same thing?)


To answer that question, one must consider that John Paul I died after just 33 days in office. Reigned from Aug 26 1978 - Sep 28 1978. He was 65.
33 days.


oh! right, thank you! And thank you Hesychios for the correction :slight_smile:


t68ware asked:

I was not aware of any heresies or bad teachings of the late Pope. Was there anything that John Paul did that was questionable?

And you answered:


I am disturbed at what seems to be implied by your “answer.” Please be more direct.

My grandfather died at age 58. He was playing gin rummy with a few friends, got up and went to the toilet. When he didn’t return after several minutes, his friends called after him. He didn’t answer, so my grandmother went to check on him. He was dead sitting on the bowl.

Nobody did anything wrong. He just died, suddenly, going from apparently perfect health to dead in a few seconds.

My mother (his daughter) had her first heart attack at age 36. She was out shopping … browsing a flea market, actually, which she did for fun. Came within --| |— that much to dying at age 36. She did die at age 64, though not suddenly, but from cancer.

I hope that you will either recant what I think you meant, or explain how I was wrong.



I think part of the problem here is mixing up Popes John Paul I and John Paul II through non-use of the numerals.


That may be so, but I think the scurrilous attacks upon either pope are unfortunate.

I find the rumors about the “fortuitous” death of Pope John Paul I worse than poor taste. It is a grave matter to judge anyone, but to imagine the “hand of God” protecting the church by killing Popes, well that’s just too much. :blush:


No, disturbing is a million people massacred in Rwanda in 1994. All I’m doing is stating facts.


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