Is the Pope a Catholic?

22 June 2019

3.8 MINS

Editor’s Note: The Canberra Declaration is an active, caring, growing community of people who have a vision to see Australia’s Judeo-Christian Values revitalised. The Canberra Declaration team are committed to working across the whole body of Christ which includes Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, Orthodox and Pentecostal.

The Canberra Declaration Management team are signatories to both the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed and are absolutely committed to Biblical Truth as found in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are the basis for the foundations of Western Civilization which are our Judeo-Christian Belief system.

We share the author’s concerns that Pope Francis would appear at times to be veering away from these scriptural foundations. It could also be the mainstream media’s misreporting of his good intentions. Please see the last week’s article about this issue here.

We believe that Pope Francis is a profound man of faith with a deep heart for God but none of us this side of glory are beyond criticism. So we publish this article believing in free speech and the article’s shortcomings and in our own mortal weakness. Please accept it in the Spirit which is given which is not a criticism but a fraternal correction given in humility and grace.


Pope Francis—pontiff number 266—will be remembered as one of the most progressive in the history, but is he also a heretic? According to the conservative Roman Catholic website, LifeSiteNews, sixty-two scholars have produced a 20-page document accusing Pope Francis of heresy and calling on the church to act in response.

By the way, I don’t write this because I think that my own particular denomination is without sin. Unfortunately, the Presbyterian Church of Australia has had more than its fair share of false teachers over the years. From Charles Strong, Samuel Angus and, more recently, the well-publicised heresy trial involving Peter Cameron.

No, the reason I address it is because it is the responsibilities of leaders to uphold the values of the institutions which employ them. And if they can’t continue to do that then they should have the integrity to resign. However, what we are now seeing though, is the triumph of the individual.

Catholics have been increasingly concerned about many of the Pope’s statements regarding divorce and remarriage, homosexuality (‘Who am I to judge?’), capital punishment, the existence of hell, and even the re-wording of the Lord’s Prayer. But the current document goes even further and comprehensively outlines seven key areas of doctrine, as well as a plethora of public actions, that the current Pontiff has been guilty of committing. Here are some of the more notorious examples:

  • On June 9, 2014, Pope Francis received the leaders of the militantly pro-homosexual Tupac Amaru organisation from Argentina at the Vatican, and blessed their coca leaves for use in their pagan religious rituals, which involve recognition of the coca plant as sacred.
  • Pope Francis has failed to speak a word in support of popular campaigns to preserve Catholic countries from abortion and homosexuality, for example, before the referendum to introduce abortion into Ireland in May 2018.
  • At the opening Mass of the Synod on Youth in 2018, Pope Francis carried a staff in the form of a ‘stang’, an object used in satanic rituals.
  • During the Synod on Youth in 2018, Pope Francis wore a distorted rainbow-coloured cross, the rainbow being a popularly promoted symbol of the homosexual movement.
  • Pope Francis has concluded an agreement with China that permits the Chinese government to choose Catholic bishops in that country, and has ordered a number of faithful Catholic bishops to yield their dioceses to bishops appointed by the state. China is an atheist state that persecutes Christians, and enforces an immoral population policy that includes promotion of contraception, and coerced abortion on a massive scale. This population policy is a high priority for the Chinese government and has caused incalculable harm. Control of the Church by the Chinese government will ensure that the Church in China can offer no resistance to this policy.

As if all this wasn’t as serious enough, the document also addresses a number of significant failures in pastoral governance. Indeed, it lists no less than twenty-three (!) separate incidents where the present Pontiff not only protected those found guilty of serious sexual and doctrinal transgression but also promoted them to positions of ecclesiastical authority within the Church. Sadly, the people being identified are either personally guilty of child abuse, sexual immorality or have explicitly opposed the official teachings of the ancient institution.

Now, the issue of removing a Pope in the Roman Catholic Church is a more difficult than one might think. Because, as the aforementioned document itself explains: “It is agreed that the Church does not have jurisdiction over the pope, and hence that the Church cannot remove a pope from office by an exercise of superior authority, even for the crime of heresy”. What’s more, the document goes on to state:

It is agreed that a pope who is guilty of heresy and remains obstinate in his heretical views cannot continue as pope. Theologians and canonists discuss this question as part of the subject of the loss of papal office. The causes of the loss of papal office that they list always include death, resignation, and heresy. This consensus corresponds to the position of untutored common sense, which says that in order to be pope one must be a Catholic.

That last point is really key. Because the only reason for removing a pope from office is became he is no longer a Catholic. And from the evidence numerous scholars have presented it seems quite clear that this might actually be the case.

When I was growing up the punchline that was often used regarding the truth of a statement that so obvious as to need no explaining was, “Is the Pope Catholic?!” But now, with increasingly regularity, when that particular question is asked, even Roman Catholics aren’t exactly sure what the answer should be.

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