Obedience to the Apostolic See
(or are supposed to take) an oath to uphold true doctrine and
tradition. If they fail to do so, they can be removed by, for
example, a Council or Cardinals.* Julius II even laid a case for disobedience of a
Pope elected through simony, but that may simply have been a
political attack against the Borgia. Now, just because a Pope is
doing things for which he could be removed does not
mean that those who have the power to do so will act accordingly.
Thus it is entirely possible to have a Pope or even a string of Popes
who do not uphold the doctrine and traditions of the Church, as laid
down so eloquently by many previous Popes, as well as t he Saints and
Doctors. Even the Popes who wrote about obedience to the Holy Father
could never have imagined the situation of the past few decades and
even condemned those same errors themselves. So, there is also the
possibility of a Papal Puppet, in which the Pope, no matter his true
views, is being manipulated by others. So, if we have a situation
like either of those I mentioned, we still have a Pope. Perhaps he is
a defective one, but we still have one all the same. Thus the
question become one of hierarchy of obedience. We are first to be
obedient to the traditions and doctrine of the Faith, for the Popes,
Saints, and Doctors have all consistently said that until the recent
time. Even Leo XIII's encyclical mentioning that one cannot ignore
the current Holy Father in hopes of a future one approving is not
applicable, for he was speaking in the context of tradition and
doctrine being maintained in the Petrine office and of obedience
within that context. Any Holy Father is similarly called to this
obedience. Thus we best remain united with the Apostolic See through
obedience to the traditions and eternal doctrine of the Faith. That
is union with 2000 years rather than union with a few decades. That
is union with the Holy Fathers, the Saints, and the Doctors rather
than union with an historic minority who stands against them. The
Apostolic See is the See of Peter. It was to Peter whom the Keys to
the Kingdom of Heaven were first given. Ultimately that is union with
Christ through maintaining the Faith delivered to and through the
Apostles consistently through the ages until some took it upon
themselves to change it.
have been several instances of the removal or attempted removal of a
Council of Constance deposed all three Papal claimants at the time
and elected Pope Martin V (1417-1431) and, with the support of the
Emperor, gained his acceptance as the sole Pope. This was also
approved by Gregory XII.
Council of Basel deposed Eugenius IV.
deposition of a Pope by a Council was supported by Pius II until his
own removal began to be discussed.
was also discussion of the removal of Paul VI.
Benedict IX was expelled by a Roman mob.
Martin I was effectively deposed when the Roman clergy elected Saint
"The manifestly heretical pope ceases per se to be pope and head as he ceases per se to be a Christian and member of the Church, and therefore he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the early Fathers." Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Cardinal, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church in De Romano Pontifice, Milan, 1857
"Cardinals can depose a Pope for heresy, but they are nevertheless not greater than the Pope. Summa Decretorum, Huguccio
further reading, see:
of Deposition of Pope Eugene IV," 7 July 1439" in Colman
J. Barry, Readings in Church History, (MD: Christian Classics, 1985), p.500.
II, "Execrables," 18 January 1460, in Barry, op. cit.,
p.502; J.N.D. Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes, (1986), p.247.
Oakley, Council Over Pope? (NY: Herder & Herder, 1969).