3Canonists have debated whether or not his also includes schism, but Pope Pius XIIappears to have settled this as the ‘lawgiven’ in the Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi: “For notevery sin, however great 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.” (Paragraph 23) In the previous paragraph hehad stated; “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have beenbaptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separatethemselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faultscommitted.” We know that heretics do not profess the true Faith.Now we should distinguish between an isolated incident, such as that of Pope John XXIIand persistent and notorious heresy. An isolated incident is most likely an accident, whichwould not have happened with more mature deliberation. However, persistent and notoriousheresy is another matter. This is a way of life and thus quite dangerous. In the case of anotorious and persistent heretic, the law is quite clear. They are excommunicated ipso factounder Canon 2314, become irregular under Canons 984, paragraph 5 and 985, paragraph 1 andresign all offices in the Church under Canon 188, paragraph 4 to mention a few results. PopePius IX states that they have suffered shipwreck in the Faith, and much more can be said.
Why Is the Case of the Pope Different?
If all Christians who become heretics immediately suffer shipwreck of the Faith and incurexcommunication and irregularity, why doesn’t the Pope? Why is there a reticence to ‘judge thepope’? The reason is simple. “Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur’ (Canon 1556) “The PrimatialSee can be judged by no one.” In fact this is a doctrine of the Divine and Catholic Faith. This iswhy canonists and theologians have debated the question of whether or not a Pope can become aheretic and more important, what can the Church do if such a catastrophe happened. Some holdthat an imperfect council of the Church would have to be called to declare the fact and then electa Pope or convene the Cardinals to elect a Pope. It is called imperfect, because only a Pope cancall an Ecumenical Council. Others hold that the Cardinals, as the ordinary electors of the Pope,could intervene to declare the papacy vacant and proceed to elect a Pope. Some hold that thepapacy does not truly become vacant until such declaration, while others hold that the papacybecome vacant by the act of heresy and all that is required is the declaration of this fact by theChurch.
Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio And a Possible Solution
Given the reasoning of the more modern canonists in light of Canons 188, paragraph 4and 221, the most likely event is that a Pope by committing an act of heresy resigns his office,which the Church accepts by the very fact of the heresy as it does in all other cases. It should benoted that the old law supporting Canon 188, paragraph 4 is Pope Paul IV’s Bull, ‘Cum ExApostolatus Officio. We have quoted paragraph 1 above. Let us consider that if a man is apersistent and notorious heretic after his apparent election as Pope, he might have been a hereticprior to his election. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that if this is true, that God would make thisable to be discovered by carefully reviewing a man’s speeches and writings prior to his electionas Pope?