Bishop Athansius Schneider Is Wrong about Automatic Loss of Office – Fr. Paul Kramer

The comments below from Fr. Paul Kramer are in regard to the following essay of Bishop Athanasius Schneider:

In this essay, Bishop Schneider claims that the opinion of an automatic loss of the papacy for heresy reveals a hint of crypto-conciliarism.  Fr. Kramer counteracts his claim.

“There are two extreme positions on the question of papal deposition which still manage to acquire adherents even in our time. The first is the belief that if a pope would become a manifest formal heretic, he would remain in office, and could not be deposed in any manner whatever.”

Kramer, Paul. On the true and the false pope: The case against Bergoglio (p. 33). Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition.

“The first extreme position is the opinion which seems to be supported by Bishop Athanasius Schneider…..As will become evident, there is neither a contradiction nor any hint of crypto-conciliarism in the opinion, as I will amply prove in this volume…..Bishop Schneider’s mistake is rooted in an imprecise and restrictive usage of the word ‘pope’ which fails to critically distinguish adequately between a true and certain pope on the one hand, and a ‘doubtful pope’ (papa dubius) on the other. The former must always be regarded, as a dogmatic fact, to be the holder of the primacy; while the latter’s claim, according to all the theologians, falls under the jurisdiction of the Church: Papa dubius, papa nullus. The opinion that Bishop Schneider characterizes as form of ‘crypto-Conciliarism’ is in fact, not only supported by Innocent III, but it can be seen after careful examination to be the doctrinal position of that same pontiff, which was subsequently developed theologically and elaborated according to its variations in the following centuries by some of the most eminent theologians and doctors — St. Robert Bellarmine, St Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, Pietro Ballerini, Pope Gregory XVI, just to mention a few. According to these Doctors, a heretic pope, 1)’ ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church’ [Bellarmine], 2) that ‘by his public pertinacity… he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary,’ ‘that he by his own will departed’, and is ‘severed from the body of the Church, and has in some manner abdicated the Pontificate’ — i.e. that he ‘ipso facto by his own will abdicated the primacy and the pontificate’, [Ballerini]; 3) ‘For the rest, if God should permit that a Pope should become a notorious and contumacious heretic, he would cease to be Pope, and the pontificate would be vacant’ [St. Alphonsus de Liguori]; 4) ‘Whence he could be considered, as Ballerini observes, as a public schismatic and heretic, and in consequence, and to have fallen by himself from the pontificate, if he had been validly elevated to it’, and therefore, ‘the deposition is not a prescription against… the current representation of the Church in the Pope recognized as such, but only against the person, who was before adorned with papal dignity.’ [Gregory XVI]).”

Ibid., pp. 36-39.

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