Archbishop Viganò vs. Pope Innocent III, Trent Catechism, the Ancient Fathers, Doctors of the Church & Scripture
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's opinion is:
"And I repeat: we are not talking about a legitimate operation, but of an abuse that, despite being an abuse, no one would be able to prevent, since “the First See is judged by none” – prima Sedes a nemine judicatur. And since the deposition of a heretical Pope is a canonically unresolved question on which there is no unanimous consent of canonists, anyone who would accuse Bergoglio of heresy would be going down a dead end and would obtain a result only with great difficulty." [https://www.marcotosatti.com/2020/10/23/vigano-the-pope-and-the-gay-lobby-in-the-vatican-intentional-ambiguity/]
Is Archbishop Viganò's opinion true or false?
Here is the answer from a POPE to Viganò and all the Francis traditionalists who claim that a heretical pope can't be judged by the Church:
Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in "Si Papa":
"'Let no mortal being have the audacity to reprimand a Pope on account of faults, for he whose duty it is to judge all men cannot be judged by anybody, unless he should be called to the task of having deviated from the faith. (Si Papa)'"
"Pope Innocent III: 'For me the faith is so necessary that, whereas for other sins my only judge is God, for the slightest sin in the matter of the faith I could be judged by the Church.' (propter solum peccatum quod in fide commititur possem ab Ecclesia judican)"
(The Remnant, "Answering a Sedevacantist Critic," March 18, 2015)
Moreover, the important theologian Dominique Bouix in, Tractatus de papa, ubi et de concilio oecumenico, vol. II , pars IIIa, cap. iii, p. 653ff, responded to Viganò's opinion:
The second part, in which we hold that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication, which the Supreme Pontiff can determine, are separated from the body of the Church, is taught as Catholic doctrine by Pius XII in the encyclical Mystici corporis: AAS 35 (1943) 202ff.
1057. This whole thesis of ours is clearly taught by Pius XII and the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
Pius XII writes: “But in truth, only those are to be numbered amongst the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith, who have not miserably separated themselves from the community of the Church or through most grave crimes been separated by the legitimate authority…For this reason, those who are divided from one another in faith or government are unable to live in the one Body of this sort and in its divine Spirit…Nor should it be thought that the Body of the Church, because it is insigned with the name of Christ, consists, even in this time of terrestrial pilgrimage, only of members outstanding in sanctity, or that it is constituted only of the company of those who are predestined by God to sempiternal felicity…Indeed not every crime, even if a grave wickedness, is of such kind that of its very nature it separates man from the Body of the Church—as do schism, heresy, or apostasy.”
In the Catechism of the Council of Trent we read:
“Only three sorts of men are excluded from the Church: firstly, infidels, then heretics and schismatics, and finally excommunicates: pagans indeed, because they have never been in the Church, nor ever known it, nor been made partakers of any Sacrament in the society of the Christian people; heretics and schismatics, because they have revolted from the Church, for they no more pertain to the Church, than do deserters to the army from which they have defected: yet it must not be denied that they are in the power of the Church, as ones who may be called to judgment by her, punished, and condemned by anathema. Finally also excommunicates, because by the judgment of the Church have they been excluded from her, and do not belong to her communion until they come to their senses. But concerning other men, though they be wicked and criminal, it is not to be doubted that they yet persevere in the Church.”
1058. Dogmatic value. The first part, concerning heretics, apostates, and schismatics, is implicitly defined, particularly in the Council of Florence: D 714. The second part, on excommunicates by perfect excommunication, is Catholic doctrine, especially from the words of the encyclical of Pius XII, Mystici corporis Christi, recently cited by us above.
1059. The first part is proved. Heretics, apostates, and schismatics are not members of the Church...
1060. The same doctrine is confirmed by the authority of testimonies of the holy Fathers.
a) On heretics. Tertullian: “If they are heretics, they cannot be Christians” (R 298). St. Hilary: “I am a Catholic; I do not wish to be a heretic. I am a Christian, not an Arian.” St. Jerome: “Heretics pass judgment upon themselves, receding from the Church of their own will.” St. Augustine: “Sever yourselves from the members of the Church, sever yourselves from its Body. But what still might I say, in order that they might segregate themselves from the Church, since they have already done this? For they are heretics; they are already without.” The controversy on the rebaptizing of heretics, which was agitated thence from the middle of the third century, supposed as recognized by all that heretics are outside of the Church.
b) On schismatics. Cyprian: “But what pertains to the person of Novatian…you know that we in the first place ought not to be inquisitive of what he taught, since he taught from without. Whosoever he is and of whatever condition, he is not a Christian who is not in the Church of Christ…he who neither held fast to fraternal charity nor ecclesiastical unity, has lost even that which he was previously.” St. Jerome: “Between heresy and schism, we think there to be this difference, that heresy imports perverse dogma; schism, on account of episcopal dissension, separates from the Church…moreover, no schism does not fabricate for itself a heresy, so that it might seem to have receded from the Church rightly.” St. Augustine: “Heretics and schismatics call their congregations churches. But heretics, thinking falsely about God, violate the faith itself; but schismatics burst free of fraternal charity through hostile divisions, although they believe those things which we believe. For this reason, heretics do not belong to the Catholic Church, because she loves God, nor schismatics, because she loves the neighbor” (R 1562). St. Fulgentius: “Most firmly hold and doubt not at all, that every one baptized outside of the Catholic Church is unable to become a partaker of eternal life, if before the end of this life he has not returned and been incorporated to the Catholic Church. Most steadily and in no way doubt, that not only all pagans, but also all Jews and all heretics and schismatics, who finish this present life outside of the Catholic Church, are to enter into the eternal fire” (R 2274-5). Pelagius I: “Pollute not a mind ever Catholic by any communion of schismatics. It is clear that the Body of Christ is one, the Church is one…our Savior taught: a vine separated from the grapevine cannot be good for anything, but fire for burning…Do not think that they either are or can be called the Church. And indeed since, as we have said, the Church is one…it is clear that there is no other but that which is founded in the apostolic root.”
of the Church St. Francis de Sales totally confirmed beyond any doubt
the possibility of a heretical pope and what must be done by the Church
in such a situation:
"[T]he Pope... WHEN he is EXPLICITLY a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church MUST either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See."
(The Catholic Controversy, by St. Francis de Sales, Pages 305-306)
Saint Robert Bellarmine, also, said "the Pope heretic is not deposed ipso facto, but must be declared deposed by the Church."
The renowned scholar Arnaldo Xavier de Silveira who was one of the top experts in modern times of the subjects of papal validity and heretical popes gave a brief overview of his authority on this matters:
"In the 1970 Brazilian edition of my study of the heretical Pope, in the French edition of 1975 and in the Italian in 2016, I stated that on the grounds of the intrinsic theological reasons underpinning the Fifth Opinion I considered it not merely probable but certain. I chose not to insist on the qualification 'theologically certain' for an extrinsic reason, namely, that certain authors of weight do not adopt it.43 This was also the opinion of the then Bishop of Campos, Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, as expressed in a letter of 25th January 1974, when he sent my work to Paul VI, asking him to point out any possible errors (which never took place), expressly stating that he referred to the study 'written by lawyer Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, with the contents of which I associate myself .'”
Here is what de Silveira says in his book "Implications Of New Missae And Heretic Popes (Page 176)" on the subject of heretical popes:
"Resuming: We believe that a careful examination of the question of a Pope heretic, with the
theological elements of which we dispose today, permits one to conclude that an eventual Pope heretic would lose his charge in the moment in which his heresy became 'notorious and publicly divulged'."
"And we think that this sentence is not only intrinsically probable , but certain , since the reasons
allegeable in its defense appear to us as absolutely cogent. Besides, in the works which we have
consulted, we have not found any argument which persuaded us of the opposite. "
"(1 ) The second opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine - See pp. 1 56 ft.
(2) The first subdivision proposed by us to the fifth opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine - See p. 170.
(3) The second subdivision which we proposed to the fifth opinion - See p. 170.
(4) The third subdivision which we proposed on the fifth opinion. - See p. 1 70.
(5) The fourth opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine . - See pp. 161 ff.
(6) We transcribe that long argumentation on pp. 1 64 ff. - See also note 2 of p. 1 64.
(7) One ought not to see shades of conciliarism in the principle that ecclesiastical organisms, as the Council, can omit a pronouncement declaring the eventual cessation of functions of a Pope heretic, as long as these organisms do not claim for themselves any right other than that enjoyed by any one of the faithful. For motives of mere convenience or courtesy, it could behoove these organisms to make such a declaration, in the first place; but this priority would not constitute for them a right of their own, or even less exclusive."[https://archive.org/stream/SilveiraImplicationsOfNewMissaeAndHereticPopes/Silveira%20Implications%20of%20New%20Missae%20and%20Heretic%20Popes_djvu.txt]
Dr. John R. T. Lamont, philosopher and theologian, explains the procedures of how Francis's papacy could cease if he is declared a heretical pope by the Church:
"Some... argue that the dubia and other criticisms of Amoris Laetitia that have been made already suffice as warnings to Pope Francis, and hence that he can now be judged to be guilty of the canonical crime of heresy..."
But for juridical purposes – especially for the very serious purpose of judging a Pope to be a heretic – they do not suffice. The evidence needed for a juridical judgment of such gravity has to take a form that is entirely clear and beyond dispute. A formal warning from a number of members of the College of Cardinals that is then disregarded by the Pope would constitute such evidence."
"The possibility of a Pope being canonically guilty of heresy has long been admitted in the Church. It is acknowledged in the Decretals of Gratian There is no dispute among Catholic theologians on this point – even among theologians like Bellarmine who do not think that a Pope is in fact capable of being a heretic..."
"It is to be hoped that the correction of Pope Francis does not have to proceed this far, and that he will either reject the heresies he has announced or resign his office..."
"Removing him from office against his will would require the election of a new Pope, and would probably leave the Church with Francis as an anti-Pope contesting the authority of the new Pope. If Francis refuses to renounce either his heresy or his office, however, this situation will just have to be faced."
To read the whole article click below:
Finally, unambiguously, Cardinal Burke, in an interview with the World Catholic Report, said that if a pope "formally profess heresy... he would cease...to be the Pope":
CWR: When was last time a Pope was rebuked?
Cardinal Burke: As far as I know, and I’m not an expert in this, it was John XXII. He was corrected for a wrong teaching he had on the beatific vision.
CWR: And who did that?
Cardinal Burke: There was a bishop involved and some Dominican Friars…
CWR: Is there a Scriptural basis for rebuking a pope?
Cardinal Burke: The classic Scriptural basis is St. Paul’s rebuking of Peter [in Galatians 2:11ff] for his accommodation of the Judaizers in the early Christian Church. Saint Paul confronted Peter to his face because he would be requiring things of the Gentile Christians that are not inherent to the Christian faith. And Peter actually agreed with that, but when he was with the Judaizers he would feign the other position and so Paul corrected him, as he said, to his face...
Cardinal Burke: If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.
CWR: That could happen.
Cardinal Burke: Yes.
CWR: That’s a scary thought.
Cardinal Burke: It is a scary thought, and I hope we won’t be witnessing that at any time soon.
CWR: In hindsight, with all of the controversy that has surrounded this, should you have kept these concerns to yourself and just waited for His Holiness to answer your dubia?
Cardinal Burke: No, not at all, because the faithful and priests and bishops have the right to have these questions answered. It was our duty as cardinals, when the Pope made it clear that he would not respond to them, to make them public so that the priests and the lay faithful who had these same doubts might know that their doubts are legitimate and that they deserve a response.
CWR: Some consider you to be an enemy of Pope Francis. How do you see yourself in relation to him?
Cardinal Burke: I am a Cardinal of the Church, and one of the Pope’s principal co-workers. I have absolute respect for the Petrine office. If I didn’t care about him and his exercise of the Petrine office, I would just remain silent and let everything go as it is. But because in conscience I believe he has an obligation to clarify these matters for the Church, I made it known to him, not just on this occasion, but on other occasions. The publication of the dubia was done with complete respect for his office. I am not the enemy of the Pope.
CWR: Back to this question about the Pope committing heresy. What happens then, if the Pope commits heresy and is no longer Pope? Is there a new conclave? Who’s in charge of the Church? Or do we just not even want to go there to start figuring that stuff out?
Cardinal Burke: There is already in place the discipline to be followed when the Pope ceases from his office, even as happened when Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his office. The Church continued to be governed in the interim between the effective date of his abdication and the inauguration of the papal ministry of Pope Francis.
CWR: Who is competent to declare him to be in heresy?
Cardinal Burke: It would have to be members of the College of Cardinals.[https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2016/12/19/cardinal-burke-no-i-am-not-saying-that-pope-francis-is-in-heresy/]
Latin language expert Br. Alexis Bugnolo put it best:
"We are left with repeated examples that defy explanation. Those Cardinals and Bishop who have the reputations for being the most conservative, who often speak in the defense of many truths, openly reject catholic teaching on what happens to heretics. To do such a thing is itself a heresy, because it is asserting that entire dogmatic and canonical tradition of the Church on heresy is not true."
"Heretics will never out heretics. I just hope that this principle is not verified in the case of the men of whom we speak, and that they are only cowards, not heretics."
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church as well as the Triumph of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.