Mocking the Pope is a sin against God

It doesn’t matter if the Roman Pontiff is liberal and you are conservative, or if he is conservative and you are liberal. It doesn’t matter if he has said or done something with which you disagree. It doesn’t even matter if you happen to be correct, and the Pope’s opinion or prudential judgment happens to be incorrect. Mocking the Pope is a sin against God. And doing so publicly adds the sin of scandal.

The teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church applies:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty: – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them; – of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

All human persons deserve to be treated with respect. The Roman Pontiff deserves respect simply as a human person, then also as a fellow Christian. In addition, his office itself deserves respect, since he is the Vicar of Christ, the head of the Church on earth, and the Supreme Pastor of Christ’s flock. And you cannot separate the man from the office by saying “I only ridicule the man, not the office.” Treating any Pope with ridicule and derision is a sin against his person and his office.

Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches:
“schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity”
“the loss of charity is the road to the loss of faith”
“schism is the road to heresy”
“schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff”

But I add that anyone who mocks or ridicules the Pope has already begun to walk the road toward schism. For ridicule of the Supreme Pontiff is contrary to ecclesiastical charity. And whosoever feels free to mock the Pope will also feel free to refuse to submit to his authority. And anyone who derides the Pope publicly thereby encourages others toward schism.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to Mocking the Pope is a sin against God

  1. Francisco says:

    Words of hatred, reproach, mock, or defiance against the Pope can also be considered Blasphemy?

    “2148 …. The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s Church, the saints, and sacred things……. Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.” – CCC.

    I’m asking because blasphemy is contrary to the respect due to God, and love of God is not separated with love of neighbor; and it extends to holy things, Christ’s Church, the saints, sacred things; and we call our Vicar of Christ the “Holy Father” for a reason, don’t we?.

    So, it would be against the 2nd, and 4th, commandment.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, words of hatred and mocking (derision, ridicule) against the Pope or the body of Bishops or an Ecumenical Council or the Church as a whole or Church authority is indirect blasphemy. But I don’t think “reproach” and “defiance” qualify. A Pope might be mildly reproached by a Cardinal for a personal error, such as St. Paul reproaching St. Peter for eating only with Jewish Christians (Gal 2:11-12). And defiance would be sinful, but not specifically the sin of blasphemy. Also, one can faithfully disagree, to a limited extent with a non-infallible teaching, and one can faithfully disobey (for proportionate reasons) a rule or ruling of the papal temporal authority.

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