In previous posts (see here, here, here, and here), I have written about Fr. David Hewko’s positions on the pope, heresy, and related matters and that his positions oppose the Magisterium of the Church in her doctrine and Canon Law. Unfortunately, Father continues to publicly teach his errors to the faithful. The one that has recently received my greatest attention is the same one I presented in this post, that is, that a heretical pope, even if he admits to teaching heresy, would remain pope until a future pope judges him because the Church does not have jurisdiction over a pope. Fr. Hewko repeated this error in two separate conferences he gave in July 2023 (see here at the 1 hr. and 7 minutes mark and here at the 1 hr. and 8 minutes mark). I have already pointed out in this post that the proposition that only a future pope can judge a present pope for heresy is a falsity if the presumption is that the person being judged is pope because an equal does not have jurisdiction over an equal, so Father’s argument fails just on this point. However, there is a bigger and more fundamental problem with Father’s position which I have also already briefly written about (see here) and that is that Father’s position indirectly denies the following proposition which must be believed with Divine and Catholic Faith:
The public sin of manifest formal heresy per se (i.e., by its very nature) separates the heretic from the Church.
I have made many posts demonstrating that this is the teaching of the Church, the Fathers, and theologians (see this page). This infallible teaching is of the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium. I have asked Fr. Hewko via private messages to unequivocally affirm or deny this proposition, but he has refused to do so. It is my impression that he sees it as a theological opinion rather than Church teaching. Note that my question of Father has nothing to do with its application to Jorge Bergoglio. I simply wanted him to affirm or deny the proposition itself. I have asked the same question of Fr. Rafael, O.S.B., and he unequivocally affirmed it (see here). Fr. Rafael admitted to me that this proposition is of Divine and Catholic Faith even though he publicly acknowledges Jorge Bergoglio as pope. The proposition is one thing; the application of it to a specific person is another. Of course, I do not agree with Fr. Rafael regarding its application. If Jorge Bergoglio has not shown himself to be a public manifest formal heretic, then I do not know who could ever be shown to be one barring the heretic’s own admission.
The proposition may alternatively be written as such:
One who knowingly, consciously, and willingly publicly asserts a proposition that is in direct contradiction to a Church teaching that must be believed with Divine and Catholic Faith separates himself from the Church by that very fact.
Note again that Fr. Hewko’s position is that even if a pope were to admit he teaches heresy he would still remain pope. Now how much more evidence does one need to condemn a heretic as a heretic when the heretic himself admits to teaching heresy??? Fr. Hewko’s strange position most closely resembles Opinion No. 3 of the Five Opinions expounded upon by St. Robert Bellarmine. Opinion No. 3 is such:
“That a pope who is even a manifest heretic is not deposed ipso facto and cannot be deposed by the Church.”
(Kramer, Paul. On the true and the false pope: The case against Bergoglio, p. 49. Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition.)
Let us see what St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church and great ecclesiologist, writes about Opinion No. 3:
“The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy. Turrecremata in the aforementioned citation relates and refutes this opinion, and rightly so, for it is exceedingly improbable. Firstly, because that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent . And what is more, in the Fourth Council of Constantinople, Act 7, the acts of the Roman Council under Hadrian are recited, and in those it was contained that Pope Honorius appeared to be legally anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, the only reason where it is lawful for inferiors to judge superiors. Here the fact must be remarked upon that, although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II was deceived by corrupted copies of the Sixth Council, which falsely reckoned Honorius was a heretic, we still cannot deny that Hadrian, with the Roman Council, and the whole Eighth Synod sensed that in the case of heresy, a Roman Pontiff can be judged. Add, that it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”
So Fr. Hewko’s position opposes the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine.
Let us see what Fr. Paul Kramer, who has extensively studied this subject and written two volumes on it, writes about Opinion No. 3:
“Number Three is false, because, (as I have proven in Volume One), it is de fide that a public heretic is severed from membership ipso facto by the very nature of heresy, and loses office ipso jure; but a public heretic who remains pope while no longer a member would still be the chief member; and he would still hold office even after losing his office ipso jure. The consideration of these absurdities proves that the opinion is against the Catholic faith; yet, this opinion is still popular among many ignorant Catholics.”
(Kramer, Paul. On the true and the false pope: The case against Bergoglio, p. 51. Gondolin Press. Kindle Edition.)
So Fr. Hewko’s position opposes the scholarly work of Fr. Paul Kramer.
Now the teaching of the most authoritative person I am presenting in this post (I previously wrote about this more briefly here) that Fr. Hewko’s position opposes is that of His Holiness Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mystici Corporis. I want to make clear from the start that Pope Pius XII does not write about papal heresy in this encyclical, but what he does teach has irrefutable implications for a heretical pope if it were possible for a pope to become a public manifest formal heretic. Let us start with the following:
“In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli annumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur, neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separarunt, vel ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt.”
“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.”
Note here that Pope Pius XII distinguishes between those who “separate themselves from the unity of the Body” of the Church from those who have “been excluded by legitimate authority“. We learn in the following from the same encyclical how one separates himself from the unity of the Body:
“Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmodi est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet.”
“For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”
Let us in the following remove the terms “schism” and “apostasy” to make the statement more clear in regard to “heresy”:
“For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does…..heresy…..”
The first thing to note about this teaching is that Pope Pius XII is speaking about public heresy and not occult heresy. This is understood from the term “Body of the Church” which signifies visibility. The second thing to note is that Pope Pius XII uses the term “suapte natura” in the authoritative Latin which is translated into English by the Vatican as “of its own nature”. See also this post which shows “suapte natura” translated into English in a dictionary of ecclesiastical Latin as “by its very nature”. So the sin of heresy of (or by) its own (or very) nature severs a man (who publicly manifests formal heresy) from the Body of the Church. Now a thing that causes a change due to its own nature allows for no exceptions to the change that that thing causes. As an example in the physical order, fire due to its own nature causes the air around it to become warmer. As an example in the moral order, adultery due to its own nature causes one who knowingly, consciously, and willingly engages in it to be guilty before God of mortal sin. There are no exceptions in either case. Likewise, the sin of heresy due to its own nature causes the heretic to be separated from the Church. His sin of heresy causes him to change from being a member to being a non-member of the Church. And this applies whether the heretic was formerly pope, bishop, priest, religious, or layman. There are no exceptions. Note that I do not specify “Body” of the Church in the proposition “the public sin of manifest formal heresy per se separates the heretic from the Church” because if one does not belong to the “Body” of the Church he is not a member of the Church at all. Pope Pius XII makes this evident in the same encyclical when he states that “actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith“. There is such thing as a partial member, member of only the Soul of the Church, member of only the Body of the Church, or any other similar nonsense. One is either a member of the Church or he is not. Period. In regard to occult heresy, it is the more common opinion amongst theologians that occult heresy does not cause loss of Church membership.
Now going back to Fr. Hewko’s position, we can see how it opposes the teaching of Pope Pius XII. Fr. Hewko holds that a pope remains pope (and a fortiori a member of the Church) even if he himself, the pope, admits that he teaches heresy, whereas Pope Pius XII teaches us that the sin of heresy of its own nature (suapte natura) separates a man from the Church. Who do you believe? The answer is obvious. Now if Fr. Hewko would try to defend himself by stating (I don’t believe he would actually state this) that a man can still be pope despite being severed from the Church, then he would be admitting that the papal office can exist severed from the Church. To admit such would positively oppose the divine constitution of the Church.
Now in addition to Fr. Hewko’s position being in opposition to a teaching of the Church that must be held with Divine and Catholic Faith, it becomes very dangerous in regard to a future formal schism. Many foresee, including myself, that Jorge Bergoglio, a public manifest formal heretic and therefore an antipope, or one of his antipope successors will foment a formal schism. If this occurs and if Fr. Hewko at that time still holds the same position he holds today, he (and those who think like him) will consider Jorge Bergoglio or his successor the true pope no matter what heresy he utters and consequently enter into a canonical formal schism. At that point, my friends, we must all consider that the absolute red line in that we would no longer be morally permitted to support bishops or priests that go that route. Let us pray and hope that our loved ones like Fr. Hewko do not end up going that route. I encourage those readers who know him to speak to him about this post.
I know that I have written this many times in previous posts, but I cannot urge you enough to read Fr. Paul Kramer’s two volume set. I have studied it diligently and it is a wealth of information on this subject. It is an excellent scholarly work!
To purchase the two volumes of To Deceive the Elect, please see the following links:
Hardcover versions: see here.
Softcover and electronic versions: see here and here.