Bp. Schneider: On the question of a heretical pope

There is an interesting essay by the great Bishop Athanasius Schneider at 1Peter5 today.   I’ve only had a chance briefly to scan it.  However, it, even in that fast look, bore fruit.    Hopefully, I can get back to it.  Travel day today!

Title: On the question of a heretical pope

Here is a quick paragraph.


The Church in the very rare concrete cases of a pope committing serious theological errors or heresies could definitely live with such a pope. The practice of the Church until now was that she left the final judgment about a reigning heretical pope to his successors or to a future Ecumenical Council, such as in the case of Pope Honorius I. The same would probably have happened with Pope John XXII, if he had not retracted his error.


Bp. Schneider provides quite a bit of historical examples.

History, friends, is IMPORTANT.   In the Church’s long history, we have encountered many and various problems.  We always get through.  In many cases we emerge stronger and clearer about who we are.

I keep saying that, when you hear something strange from your pastors – of whatever exalted level – go to your sources! Check your catechisms.  Check Scripture.   Get informed.   These odd pronouncements are opportunities to review the old and learn what is new.

Since I am traveling, and since this is a hot topic, I’ll turn on moderation.


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  1. brianmsaxton says:

    Pretty sure the piece you’re talking about is at Rorate, not 1P5: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2019/03/important-guest-op-ed-bishop-schneider.html

  2. stevelskojec says:

    Rorate had it up first, but they’ve allowed others to repost it. We also have it up here:


  3. JARay says:

    The opinion piece by Bishop Schneider is of considerable length. I have not quite got through the whole of it but if I dare attempt at some sort of summary, as I read it, he says that the Church has had Popes before who have espoused heresy but that the Church itself has always continued without any major problem because the Holy Spirit really does look after the Church as a whole and He prevents the Church from really drifting into heresy. He provides some Faithful bishops who still promote the Truth and the Church Herself continues as she always has, promoting the Truth and ignoring a chief Shepherd who has, himself, gone astray.

  4. JARay says:

    If I dare (and I do so dare) I must admit that I bristle when I read “a heretical pope” It is not the concept that I object to but the English. You see, I grew up in England and as I learned the language, I was taught that when a noun which begins with a vowel, the singular “a” xxx has the letter “n” after it to assist the flow of speech. We say “a dog” but we say “an elephant”. Now I know that the word “heretical” begins with an “h” but for the reason I have given above, I say “an heretical Pope” Not, “a heretical Pope”
    Excuse my ingrained usage of the English Language.

    [Seriously? You should write your response in perfect Kazakh, perhaps, after making a review of the uses of “a” and “an” before silent or pronounced “h”.]

  5. veritas vincit says:

    Many thanks to Father Z for calling our attention to Bishop Schneider’s article, and to those who posted the links.

    But I found this passage puzzling;

    ‘With regard to the lex orandi</em? the Papal oath says:

    Disciplinam et ritum Ecclesiae, sicut inveni, et a sanctis praecessoribus meis traditum reperi, illibatum custodire.” (“I promise to keep inviolate the discipline and the liturgy of the Church as I have found them and as they were transmitted by my holy predecessors.”)’

    Bp Schneider goes on to call out Popes Pius X, Pius XII, and Paul VI as making “drastic changes” in the liturgy.

    Since the liturgy in its details is not prescribed in Scripture (as opposed to its broad outline, which is depicted in the book of Revelation), the question becomes, what authority in the Church established the details of the liturgy in the first place, and what authority can change it, if not the Pope?

  6. Charles E Flynn says:


    You have to read all of the comments to get the full benefit of this article:

    The Rule is Not “A” Before Consonants and “An” Before Vowels


    This article has good examples:

    Vowel Sounds – When to use A and An


    So, it appears that Bishop Schneider was correct, although I doubt he would claim to be infallible on such matters.

  7. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    @Charles E. Flynn and JARay: the Bishop would certainly not claim infallibility in these matters and neither would his English language editor who tries to know and follow the standard rules. Thank you for elucidating and confirming this particular usage.

  8. hilltop says:

    This superb piece is but one of the unpredictable consequences of the Pope requiring the good Bishop to stay at home…frees up a lot of time.

    Further, this piece pulls the rug entirely out from under every sedevacantist claimant anywhere, at any time, for any reason. May they each read this and return to the One True Faith!

  9. Joe in Canada says:

    We should also consider the possibility that we’ve been spoiled for the last several decades, by intelligent Popes.

Comments are closed.