To what extent may we resist or disagree with the Pope?

Pope Francis is the sole valid current Roman Pontiff. He is the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Shepherd of the Church on earth. Pope emeritus Benedict accepts Francis as the Pope. The line of succession from Benedict to Francis is made particularly clear by the submission of Pope Benedict, after his valid resignation, to Pope Francis. This situation is providential. God desires that the faithful have this additional witness that Francis is the valid Pope because the great apostasy is about to begin. [Eventually, Pope Francis will validly resign, and then Benedict and Francis will support the next Pope, who will be very conservative.]

Pope Francis holds the two keys of Saint Peter: the spiritual and temporal authority of the Church. Whosoever rejects the authority of Pope Francis over doctrine or discipline rejects Christ and commits the grave sin of formal schism and is automatically excommunicated.

To what extent may a faithful Catholic disagree with Pope Francis, without committing the grave sins of heresy or schism, nor any other grave sin?

You may NOT:
* reject or obstinately doubt his infallible teaching (should he choose to teach infallibly)
* claim that his teaching cannot be infallible because you judge a teaching to be heresy or false
* accuse Pope Francis of teaching or adhering to any heresy
* reject or obstinately doubt the body of his non-infallible teaching
* denigrate the body of his non-infallible teaching because he is liberal and you are conservative
* in any way treat his teaching as if it were error-prone, unreliable, not authoritative, or as if it were subject to the judgment and approval of yourself or of any individual or group
* reject his authority over discipline, including liturgical form
* accuse him of heresy because you believe that his decisions on discipline imply doctrinal error
* refuse to accept, openly resist, or encourage others to resist, the Pope’s authority over doctrine or discipline
* mock, deride, or ridicule the Pope, or encourage others to do so
* hold in your heart or mind malice or hatred or contempt for the person or office of the Pope
* reject any decision on doctrine or discipline, merely because it conflicts with your own understanding

Also, the faithful Catholic may NOT hold that any Pope can teach or adhere to any heresy. The faithful Catholic may NOT hold that any Pope can commit apostasy or heresy or schism. For Jesus Christ promised that he would pray for the faith of Peter and his successors, so that their faith would never fail (Lk 22:32). And Jesus Christ promised to keep the Church indefectible, by founding it on the Rock that is Saint Peter and his successors (Mt 16:17-19). Whosoever accuses any Pope of apostasy, or heresy, or schism thereby rejects the teaching and promise of our Lord and commits those respective sins himself. If you accuse the Pope of apostasy, you are an apostate and a heretic and a schismatic; if you accuse the Pope of heresy, you are a heretic and a schismatic; if you accuse the Pope of schism, you are a schismatic.

The Pope can never teach or adhere to heresy.

You MAY:
* disagree with a personal theological opinion of the Pope
* disagree with any of his comments to the press or to private persons
* to a limited extent, with a firm theological argument based on Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, disagree with particular few points within the body of his non-infallible teachings
* disagree with the wisdom or prudence of his decisions on matters of discipline and his judgments of the prudential order
* to a limited extent, respectfully and quietly disobey a rule or ruling of the Pope on a matter of discipline or prudential judgment, supported by a just or grave reason (depending on the weight of the rule or ruling).

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

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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4 Responses to To what extent may we resist or disagree with the Pope?

  1. Francisco says:

    I think most (if not all) of the First part of the list are: things “you can not” instead of “you may not”, if a person wants to remain a faithful Catholic.

    Some may say, why somebody (or the Church in general) tell me things I can not do? – well, in life, there are things that you can not do, such as remain in the middle of a railroad or a train may hit you. Same thing in the Church for the sake of your soul.

  2. Dot says:

    I’m wondering what our duty is to the bishops who insist on consorting with politicians over immigration.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The bishops are free to advise politicians and correct them if they propose some grave harm (such as legalizing abortion). Individual bishops and bishops’ conferences cannot teach infallibly, so they can err. Their interactions and advice on political issues is generally not an act of the magisterium at all, so the extent of the possible errors is greater. But I also would not assume that the bishops are wrong merely because they speak or act contrary to my opinion or your opinion.

  3. Dot says:

    A certain scripture comes to mind… “If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting;” 2 John 10. Thank you so very much for your time.

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