The Fifth Opinion – Commentary by Fr. Paul Kramer

Refer to this post and this post.

5) That a manifest heretic ceases by himself to be pope ipso facto, for which reason he may be judged and punished by the Church.

“Opinion Number Five as a pure hypothesis is valid for the reasons explained by St. Robert Bellarmine. It is not founded on any heretical premise, nor does it logically imply any heresy. Nevertheless, since divine revelation has not prescribed any clear remedy for dealing with such an eventuality, and opinions remain divided on how the Church would resolve such a crisis, it is clear that divine revelation itself does not envisage that such an eventuality will ever happen. If a pope were manifestly and certainly a formal heretic, (which he would be if he were to unequivocally assert that God is not a perfect Trinity, or that Jesus Christ was a mere man and nothing more), it would be patently obvious that he is not a Christian, and therefore not a pope of the Catholic Church. However, if his heresy would be only materially public but formally occult; then there would exist a doubt whether he was a formal heretic or not. It is of divine law that all known heretics are to be cast out and excluded from the Church’s communion, but if the suspect would still be pope even as a heretic, then by his primatial right of injudicability he could not be subjected to a canonical examination and judged, and the doubt about his heresy could then never be resolved, and it would be impossible for the Church to execute the absolute and unconditional divine precept to cast out heretics from her midst. It is only if the heretic, even before conviction, is already no pope, that the divine command can be observed. Thus it is evident, that a heretic, whether occult or manifest is absolutely and simply an incapable subject of the papacy.”

Kramer, Paul. On the true and the false pope: The case against Bergoglio (pp. 51-52). Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition.

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